The fans, both home and away, turned out in force as 38,347 supporters packed into the old ground. Within 49 seconds, around 32,000 of those fans were ecstatic. The Blackpool defence fell asleep, as Magaye Gueye advanced down the left. The onrushing Marouane Fellaini met the youngster's pull back and his neat lay-off saw Royston Drenthe finish with aplomb.
Blackpool, shell-shocked from their poor start, soon found themselves further behind with Drenthe again involved. Gueye flicked on Drenthe's corner and Denis Stracqualursi put the ball in the Gwladys Street net, at the second time of asking. Sloppy defending had cost the visitors and they never recovered from their disastrous start. Sylvain Distin made a good clearance in the six-yard box as Blackpool finally showed signs of life.
Gary Taylor-Fletcher drew a low save from Tim Howard with Blackpool's first real effort. Everton almost increased their lead thanks to a flowing move in midfield. Drenthe, Fellaini and Gueye produced a neat interchange and Gueye's cross narrowly evaded Stracqualursi at the far post. Alex Baptiste fired wildly over from a Blackpool corner although the visitors were struggling to contain the home side.
Everton did their utmost to put the game beyond doubt as half-time approached. Fellaini's shot hit a defender, Darron Gibson's long-range effort forced a save from Matt Gilks and Fellaini and Stracqualursi wasted headed opportunities. Drenthe's free kick cleared the crossbar whilst Ludovic Sylvestre tested Howard at the other end. That signalled the end of the first half, a half that Everton had dominated from the start.
Tom Ince's free kick went straight at Howard, as set pieces remained Blackpool's best route into the match. Stracqualursi broke down the left and Everton advanced, unfortunately, Fellaini and Gibson got in each other?s way and the chance went begging. The influential Drenthe went close to his second, from distance, after a great pass from Fellaini. Gilks produced a top class save to deny him and Heitinga headed the resulting corner over; he should have scored.
Kevin Phillips had two free kicks in quick succession, the first cleared the crossbar and the second rattled it with Howard beaten. Both sides made changes, as the clock approached the 70-minute mark, with Seamus Coleman making his return from injury. Stracqualursi almost grabbed his second at the far post from a Baines free kick but Gilks was alert to the danger. Stracqualursi fired over, Coleman had an effort saved and Fellaini had an effort cleared off the line as chances continued to go astray. A goal remained the only thing missing from Fellaini's virtuoso display.
Blackpool substitute Lomana LuaLua brought a terrific save from Howard as the American tipped his effort onto the post. The visitors then won, and missed, a very dubious penalty. Heitinga fouled Roman Bednar although there was minimal contact. The reliable Kevin Phillips blazed his spot kick into the Gwladys Street and Goodison breathed a collective sigh. The penalty miss signalled the end of Blackpool's cup run and Everton saw the game out with ease.
Fellaini stood out, the Belgian revelled in an advanced role, drifting into space and causing all sorts of problems. Drenthe had his most consistent 90 minutes for the club and remained a threat throughout. Gibson continues to build up his reputation as an unsung hero, doing a lot of the graft to allow others to entertain. Phil Neville did an adequate job in midfield but the game constantly passes him by and he remains a weak link.
The two centre backs were impressive and are making themselves automatic choices with their recent performances. Despite being sick, in the warm up, Baines remained his reliable self with another good display. Gueye began brightly although he looks out-of-place as a winger and Stracqualursi was at his hard-working best; his commendable work rate is beyond what the fans expect. Tony Hibbert had a solid game and pressed his claims to be first choice right back. Howard made some good saves, however his distribution remains poor.
Overall, the Toffees produced a good professional performance against a weakened Blackpool side. The final score only told half the story, Everton could have had five or six with Fellaini and Stracqualursi both culpable. Everton avoided a potential banana skin and find themselves in the Quarter Finals for the second time in nine years. The last time Everton reached this stage, in 2009, they went on to reach the final.
Seven games unbeaten; what a difference a month makes.
Howard 7, Hibbert 7, Heitinga 7, Distin 7, Baines 7, Drenthe 9, Gibson 7, Neville 6, Gueye 6, Fellaini 9* Stracqualursi 7.
Subs: Coleman 6, Barkley 6, Vellios N/A.
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