LONDON • Sam Allardyce was a privileged spectator at Everton as Wayne Rooney welcomed the manager-in-waiting watching from the stands with the first three goals in a comprehensive 4-0 victory over West Ham on Wednesday.
The captain's first hat-trick for his boyhood club was completed in the 66th minute when his shot from 58 metres out caught Joe Hart out of his goal.
Ashley Williams completed the rout by heading home from a corner after conceding a penalty for a foul on Diafra Sakho when the score was 2-0, but Jordan Pickford turned away Manuel Lanzini's spot kick.
Asked if he had ever scored a goal better than that, the 32-year-old Rooney told BT Sport: "I don't think so. I don't think I've ever hit a ball better in my life.
"It might be one of the best goals I've scored, but just as important was the clean sheet. I'm glad we put in a defensive performance as well, because it's what (caretaker boss) David Unsworth deserved."
Allardyce, who is expected to be formally installed by today on an 18-month contract, must have been pleased by Everton's first league clean sheet since their season opener against Stoke City.
Wayne Rooney has seven league goals so far this season - more than he had for the whole of last season with Manchester United (five).
The win lifted the Toffees into 13th place in the Premier League table. Unsworth opted for a 4-5-1 formation with Rooney recalled and deployed in a midfield role. And Everton looked better for the change.
"It is probably a deeper role that will suit him best at this stage of his career," Unsworth said of the former England skipper.
"He's got a wonderful football brain and he ran the game against West Ham. His (third) goal was just fantastic, he was probably the only player on the pitch capable of doing that with so little time to think about it. He knew what to do straight away and it was a goal from the moment it left his boot."
Rooney found the net for the first time in five games by heading in the rebound in the 18th minute after his penalty was saved by Hart.
He then struck again at the near post before notching his first treble in 2,272 days - the longest time between two hat-tricks for one player in the Premier League.
West Ham have taken just one point from three games since David Moyes, making a miserable return to Everton, took over from Slaven Bilic.
They remain in the bottom three and two points shy of safety, with three tough games to come against Manchester City (away), Chelsea and Arsenal (both at home).
"We didn't deserve that final score. Mistakes cost us," Moyes said. "The missed penalty was the turning point."
THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS