BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Diego Lugano scored his first goal for West Bromwich Albion to rescue a 1-1 draw against Everton on Monday in new manager Pepe Mel's first Premier League game in charge.
The Uruguay international's 75th-minute header prevented a misfiring Everton side to go back into the top four after Kevin Mirallas had given the visitors a first-half lead.
Everton had a goal correctly disallowed for offside with the last kick of the game, leaving the team in sixth place, a point behind Liverpool and Tottenham.
"I think it was a fair result in the end," Everton midfielder Gareth Barry said.
Mel replaced Steve Clarke, who was fired last month, having been sacked by Real Betis himself. He said he still needed time to make the team play the way he wants, but was pleased with the performance.
"First half, we were too open. But (in the) second half we were compact," Mel said.
Mel started striker Nicolas Anelka after its shirt sponsor announced it would not be renewing its deal because of the controversy surrounding the Frenchman's "quenelle" gesture at West Ham last month, which has been branded anti-Semitic by some observers.
Anelka has promised to not to repeat the gesture and denied he was being anti-Semitic or racist by celebrating in such a way, claiming he did it in support of controversial anti-establishment comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala. He could face a five-match ban if he is charged by The Football Association and found guilty.
Anelka began this game energized and motivated, but didn't have a large impact and was substituted just after West Brom's equalizer.
Mirallas put his team ahead after Romelu Lukaku — who spent last season on loan at West Brom — headed down a long pass into the Belgian's path and he slotted a low shot into the net.
The hosts ramped up the pressure in the second half, and Lugano met a cross from James Morrison to thump a powerful header past Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Sylvain Distin thought he had won it for Everton with the last kick of the game when he diverted Barry's shot into the net, but he was clearly offside.