The Uruguay international's 75th-minute header secured a 1-1 draw against a misfiring Everton side who briefly had one foot in the UEFA Champions League places when Kevin Mirallas fired them into a first-half lead.
Mel found himself having to earn his money almost immediately as, against a backdrop of off-field issues, he coaxed an improved second-half performance out of his side which could have easily also produced a winner.
Mel will have been grateful to be able to focus on the football as Nicolas Anelka had dominated the news agenda in the days and hours before kick-off.
Club sponsor Zoopla announced it would not be renewing its shirt sponsorship deal after the furore surrounding the Frenchman's 'quenelle' gesture at West Ham last month, which has been branded anti-Semitic and racist by many observers.
There were reports the company, co-owned by Jewish businessman Alex Chesterton, had requested that Anelka be left out of the side and also he should wear a shirt which did not bear their name.
Neither happened, with West Brom awaiting a decision from the Football Association, whose investigation into the 34-year-old's actions is likely to be concluded this week and possibly as early as Tuesday.
Anelka, who 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, could face a five-match ban if he is charged and found guilty.
He began this game energised and motivated, but despite being significantly involved he could not have the impact he would have wanted and was eventually substituted just after West Brom's equaliser.