A debut start for Jô, big Brazilian star on loan from Man City, and young Dan Gosling, only his second league start, well earned after the late-late heroics against Liverpool in Wednesday night's Cup replay.
A fantastic move down the left after a couple of minutes set Goodison alight, a fantastic low cross from Baines setting it on a plate for Cahill to clip it into the gaping net... only for it to flash inches wide of the far post!
Some really good football followed as it was complete dominance by Everton for the first 20 minutes, with Jo and Gosling impressively involved. But after that early chance, most were just half-chances, the quality of the final ball being the problem despite excellent build-up work. Too often it seemed to be Osman who would do something great to get the ball only to end the move prematurely by giving the ball away or being muscled off it.
Cahill set Jô off with a brilliant ball and he looked odds on for a breakaway debut goal but he fluffed the final shot under pressure and the chance was gone.
The breakthrough finally came in a somewhat unseemly manner, Jô being up-ended by O'Brien... although admittedly the big fella played for it somewhat, leaping over the leg he saw coming,. Nevertheless, a penalty it was, and it was dispatched fearsomely by Mikel Arteta.
Jagielka glanced in a lovely header that clipped off the bar, Lescott unable to finish it off. Osman then had a chance at the end of a great Areteta run but his goal-bound shot was blocked desperately. At the break, the Blues coulda shoulda been three or four goals to the good, 15 shots to Bolton's 1 said the stats...
After the break, Everton continued to take the game to Bolton, and in a good move the ball fell for Jô who finally could trap it and turn on goal, firing low under Jaaskelainen for a great debut goal. What more could you ask for?
After some Bolton substitutions, Everton's defence started to look less solid, and the chances started to come for Bolton. Surely it was time for Moyes to make some subs of his own? With 14 mins left, Moyes finally rested Cahill, bringing on Rodwell.
With 10 mins left, Yobo came on for Baines. And a few minutes later, Mikel Arteta was given a standing ovation for all his superb work in the centre, Van der Meyde coming on in his place.
In the dying seconds, Mark Davies was penalized for handball in the area, giving Everton another penalty that Jô smashed into the net, a perfect celebration for his debut, and a great result after some excellent flowing football from Everton.
Everton shrugged off concerns that their extra-time exploits against Liverpool four days ago would have sapped their energy by turning in a stellar display that swept Bolton Wanderers aside and yielded two goals for debutant Jô.
Playing their sixth game in 19 days, shorn of two more key players by injury, and having come off five consecutive matches against Sky Four opposition, the Blues could have been forgiven for slogging their way through a potentially scrappy and overly physical encounter, hoping to win by the odd goal.
Instead, 34,000 fans were treated to an energetic, confident performance, as fine a first-half display as any this season, and three goals which amply reflected the home side's overall domination. Not only that, but Jô, an infamous £19m misfit at Manchester City, confounded the doubters by making a dream start to life at Goodison Park, leading the line superbly alongside Tim Cahill and helping himself to two goals.
David Moyes's options for this game were limited by the loss of Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar but he was helped enormously by being able to call on his new loan signing whom he handed a first start. In midfield, Dan Gosling was rewarded for his goalscoring heroics against Liverpool with only his second senior start.
And Everton showed no signs of fatigue as they took the game to Bolton from the first whistle. Indeed, they should have been a goal to the good after just two minutes and Cahill is still probably wondering how they weren't. Leon Osman threaded a beautifully-weighted pass between two defenders for Leighton Baines to attack down the left channel and, as his low cross flew across the face of goal, Cahill just had to get sufficient purchase on it to convert from three yards. Unfortunately, his touch was just a glancing one and the ball skidded past the post.
Joleon Lescott had a volley from a corner deflected behind, Jô knocked a Gosling cross over the bar and Baines finished a fine move down the left with another cross driven low across the box which Jussi Jaaskelainen could only punch into a defender and was fortunate to have the ball bounce straight back into his arms.
Then, after Fabrice Muamba had volleyed Bolton's first chance narrowly over in the 23rd minute, Cahill presented Jô with his first real chance when, with an excellent header, he put him in the clear, one-on-one with the 'keeper. The Brazilian betrayed a lack of confidence, though, as the chasing defenders caught up with him and he dragged his shot wide of the far post.
If the miss had affected him, Jô didn't show it at all. Indeed, just a minute later he trapped Baines' pass in the area, held off his marker with the ball under his foot before executing a shot on the turn which was blocked.
Overall, the striker was putting a terrific shift up front, showing tidiness on the ball, some nice early touches and a useful ability to hold the ball up and bring teammates into play. Having watched Cahill run the line so tirelessly on his own in recent matches, it was really refreshing to have another attacking outlet in the side. And, despite being just an inch shorter than Fellaini and of similarly skinny build, Jô demonstrated terrific mobility and turn of speed when needed.
He was helped enormously by a wonderful exhibition of fast-flowing, passing football by his new teammates, the like of which we haven't seen enough this season. Moving it from one side of the pitch the other, the Blues were patient when the needed to be and quick and incisive when the opportunity presented itself.
But as half time loomed their territorial superiority still hadn't been rewarded with a goal, despite Lescott going close with a right-footed shot that deflected inches wide and a low Arteta drive that Jaaskelainen saved low to his right.
Six minutes from the break, though, another move down the left ended with Baines finding Jô inside the box and as he accelerated towards the byline inviting a foul, Andy O'Brien obliged by stuck out a leg and send the Everton no. 11 sprawling to the turf. Referee Peter Walton duly pointed to the spot and Arteta stepped up to plant the penalty above the 'keeper's dive to make it 1-0.
Three minutes later, it was almost 2-0 when Phil Jagielka glanced a Baines corner onto the bar and Lescott fired the rebound into the side-netting from a tight angle. And on the stroke of half-time, Osman was denied an almost certain goal when Gary Cahill threw himself in front of his shot and deflected it up and over the bar.
The Goodison faithful didn't have to wait too long for the all-important second goal, though. The second half was just three minutes old when Phil Neville hoisted a high ball into the box which Jô contolled and turned brilliantly past his marker before volleying smartly under the 'keeper.
The second half's "how did he miss that moment," belonged to Gosling. Nine minutes after the second goal, Tony Hibbert was fouled on the right touchline and Arteta's free kick picked out Gosling all alone at the back post. Unfortunately, perhaps because he thought Jaaskeleinen was going to get a hand to it, the youngster ended up too far ahead of the ball and he wasn't able to steer his header into the empty net.
Gosling had another chance three minutes later when the 'keeper punched another Arteta free kick to the edge of the box where the teenager knocked the ball neatly to the side to evade an onrushing defender before unloading a left-footed drive that Jaaskeleinen again had to save with a dive to his left.
After an hour of almost complete control, tiredness did seem to creep into Everton's play, though, and Bolton, having seen Matthew Taylor's 58th-minute free kick almost sneak past Tim Howard inside the far post, started to capitalise on a somewhat ragged spell by their hosts and gain more traction in midfield.
Makakula nodded inches wide and Howard had to be at his best to first push Taylor's powerful effort to safety and then leap on top of another Makakula shot that was tamed by a deflection on its way towards goal.
But Everton weathered that little spell and almost grabbed a third when Cahill produced another gravity-defying leap above the defence to connect with Baines' free kick but his header bounced the wrong side of the upright.
That was to the be the Australian's last real involvement before he was given a well-earned rest by his manager for the last 13 minutes. Jack Rodwell was introduced and was followed onto the field by Joseph Yobo, who came on for Baines after 81 minutes, and Andy van der Meyde who replaced Arteta with five minutes left of regulation time.
Moyes's side weren't done, yet, though. Yobo headed a corner well wide and Jô saw a shot from the right side of the area beaten away by the 'keeper. Then, two minutes into injury time, Van der Meyde led a break-away but eschewed a cross in favour of playing in Gosling down the right and his cross was blocked by the arm of Mark Davies. Referee Walton had not hesitation in awarding a second penalty and Jô took the opportunity to cap off an impressive debut by placing the ball on the spot.
Jaasekleinen guessed the right way again but Jô's powered his shot into the corner before wheeling away to milk the applause from the Park End stand.
3-0 matched the Blues' biggest win of the campaign, and was no more than they deserved for what was an excellent performance lit up by the kind of passing game that characterised that excellent run in the middle of last season but that's been lacking for much of the current one.
There were towering performances all over the pitch but Baines, Arteta, Hibbert and Cahill stood out for special mention. Gosling betrayed some of his inexperience but showed much of why his future is so bright while Osman was frustratingly hit-and-miss — one minute delivering a killer pass down the channel, the next being guilty of ending a promising move by giving the ball away.
But it was Jô's moment and deservedly so. He'll grab the headlines for his two goals but his overall contribution, that of the consummate striker, was just as important. Of course it's early days but on this evidence, the Brazilian's display vindicated not only Moyes but also those fans who realised that the instability at Eastlands was to blame for his failure to settle there and had confidence in the Everton manager's ability to get the best out of him.
It's just a shame that he is cup-tied for next weekend's FA Cup tie against Aston Villa because the Blues look a more complete and potent side with a natural striker back in the line-up.
Everton go into what will be their sixth game in 19 days this weekend on Cloud 9 following their dramatic extra-time victory over Liverpool in the FA Cup 4th Round replay on Wednesday night.
While supporters have been basking in the glow of a precious derby triumph, David Moyes and his players were back to the business of focusing on the next match in the form of a home match against Bolton Wanderers.
As elated as the squad must be to dump their expensive local rivals out of the cup and set up a date with Aston Villa next Sunday, the manager will be taking stock of the number of fit players he will have at his disposal for the visit of Gary Megson's side.
Marouane Fellaini had to take a painkilling injection on an ankle injury before the game against Liverpool and, after a nightmare 52 minutes, was withdrawn and replaced by the hero of the hour, Dan Gosling.
Additionally, Steven Pienaar was forced off with a knock of his own and he will surely also be rated as doubtful. Add the fact that Leon Osman has been playing with a long-standing injury, Tim Cahill has been operating at 100% capacity without a break ever since he returned to the side in September, and the remainder of the starting line-up played through extra time on Wednesday and one could be forgiven for harbouring some concerns.
Confidence and the adrenalin created by victory can be wonderful tonics to tired bodies, however, and the Blues will face Bolton with an enormous amount of self-belief and no small measure of comfort from the fact that two of their young stars came of age before the fans eyes in extra time against the Dark Side.
Gosling and Jack Rodwell in particular demonstrated the kind of maturity, composure and raw talent that would give Moyes confidence that he could send one or both out against Bolton and his team's chances would not be compromised.
And then there's the wild card represented by Andy van der Meyde, who produced a match-winning assist with his floated cross to Gosling, and the fallback of Segundo Castillo.
It's conceivable — and probably advisable — that Moyes will rest Fellaini and Pienaar and Rodwell and Gosling would be ready-made replacements. Indeed, despite those key injuries, the manager does have options, particularly with Jô almost certain to come into the team up front alongside Cahill.
That means one less spot in midfield for Moyes to worry about. Phil Neville and Mikel Arteta would, one would guess, be automatic choices, leaving him with the task of perming two from Osman, Castillo, Gosling and Rodwell.
Where Van der Meyde is concerned, one swallow doth not a summer make so it's unlikely he'll be considered from the start but his manager now knows that he can be introduced from the bench to deliver from wide areas.
Having played five straight against Sky Four opposition — and acquitted themselves brilliantly, especially in defence — going up against a side struggling for form will come as a slight relief.
Not that there is any room for complacency, of course. Bolton may not have recorded a win away from home since winning three on the bounce on their travels at the end of November, but they showed their resilience to prevail 3-2 over Spurs at the Reebok last week and were unfortunate not to beat Blackburn at Ewood Park a few days earlier.
Nevertheless, Megson's relationship with the Trotters' fans is in the toilet and they were beaten by all three of Liverpool (3-0), Manchester United (1-0) and Arsenal (1-0) in recent weeks, three sides that Moyes now feels his team can start emulating on a more consistent basis.
Anything less than victory for Everton would be regarded as a big disappointment so let's hope the momentum from the Cup triumph carries the boys through to three points.
|Premier League Scores|
|Premier League Table|
|2008-09 Reports Index|
|When Skies Are Grey||Report|
|Everton fans' reports|
|Other media reports|
|4 the Game||Report|
|Baines (82' Yobo)|
|Arteta (86' Van der Meyde)|
|Cahill (77' Rodwell)|
|Subs not used|
|Puygrenier (62' Basham)|
|M Davies :62'|
|Muamba (61' Smolarek)|
|Makukula (83' Mustapha)|
|Subs not used|
|Premier League Scores|
|Saturday 7 February 2009|
|Sunday 8 February 2009|
|West Ham||0-1||Man Utd|
|Saturday 14 February 2009|
|Wednesday 18 February 2009|
|Premier League Table|
|After 18 Feb 2009