David Moyes made a number of team changes, as expected, but the new side dominated possession for the first 10 mins without really coming close.
James McFadden was given his first start since returning, and started out brightly on the right, with Pienaar behind Stracqualursi but they soon swapped places, with Magaye Gueye playing on the left.
Cattermole fouled Pienaar very aggressively and deservedly got the first yellow card but without Baines, Osman's strike got through the wall but was eventually cleared before Fellaini could have a crack. McFadden was well involved and keen but his touch and judgement were at best rusty.
The patient build-up finally gave Everton a scoring chance after good work down the middle by Pienaar and Stracq, but Gueye chose to pull it back when he could have taken a shot, and Pienaar was taken by surprise. Fellaini then lashed one over from a wider position.
A good Sunderland cross picked out Sessegnon but his header flashed thankfully wide. McFadden was a little slow in taking a shot but it was on target and forced a save from Mignolet.
Everton's first corner came after a firm but poorly directed cross by Neville and Gueye's corner was equally poor, too high and deep, swinging out of play. It led to only the second decent Sunderland attack before the break when McClean came too close for comfort.
Everton won a quick corner after the break but the corner was overhit by McFadden. Neville then got past Bardsley but his deliberative cross that picked out Stracqualursi was just far too weak and loopy. Another corner, better this time, but Jagielka got too much underneath what needed to be a glancing header.
But third time's a charm, McFadden's corner eventually coming out to Osman via a deft Pienaar header, Mignolet parrying the drive but only out to Magaye who struck it superbly, an excellent well-taken first goal for the Frenchman.
Everton sat back after the goal, and Sunderland came into it, as McFadden tired and was replaced by the returning Royston Drenthe.
A great break saw Everton pass the ball forward nicely but when shooting opportunities appeared, they overplayed the passing game and Jagielka's shot did not come off. Gueye got a good ball in to Stracqualursi's feet but he clipped it over. His next attempt was high and wide when he should perhaps have taken another touch after turning and making space for himself.
The Blues got caught out a little and it needed some deperaate defending from Heitinga, but that seemed to sting some more determination into the Everton stand-ins, with Gueye crossing along the ground to Drnethe, wjho then played in Pienaar and teh Soyuth African took a moment to place a superb curling shot beyond Mignolet, Great goal.
Osman then duplicated the Pienaar strike after bringing down a high ball from Gueye and controlling it superbly then clipping it over Mignolet and ion off the far post for an excellent third goal that really had the home crowd cheering. Anichebe then replace Fellaini.
And it didn't take long for him to get on the scoresheet, at first fluffing a great cut-back Pienaar conjured out of nothing, but turning on his own airball and volleying it in off a Colback to complete a brilliant 5-minute second-half 3-goal blitz that sets things up very nicely for Saturday's massive Wembley occasion.
A great relaxed display with some of the less favoured first-team squad playing some excellent football... and scoring goals that have been at a premium this season. Hmmm... so much for not playing your best players!!!
Easter Monday and Sunderland return to Goodison Park, less than a week ahead of the FA Cup Semi-Final both teams competed for in one of Everton's best performances of the season at the Stadium of Light. That followed the original tie 10 days earlier when a less-motivated Blues side could not raise their game after the momentum of a good unbeaten run was squandered by that infamous capitulation at Anfield.
Fans are likely to be a lot more understanding should Moyes chose to rest half his best players this time around, in anticipation of the crucial clash with Liverpool at Wembley on Saturday.
And though David Moyes could have a very rare full compliment of players available for rotation on Monday afternoon, he is likely to rotate more players with the weekend's cup derby in mind. He has already benefited from having Seamus Coleman available, back from an injury that has kept the Irishman sidelined for much of 2012.
Jack Rodwell is also close to a return, although concerns must remain over the problematic nature of his persistent hamstring injury that just does not see to want to heal completely. And the other name missing recently, the enigmatic Royston Drenthe, is reportedly available again after being granted 'compassionate leave' for a number of weeks while the rumour mill went wild.
Moyes tried to give three of his most in-form players a rest against Norwich at the weekend, with Fellaini and Heitinga benched while Leon Osman was left out of the squad altogether with an apparent calf injury. But he brought Fellaiini on in the second half and while the big Belgian demonstrated yet again how important he has become in pushing Everton forward from central midfield he managed to pick up a ninth yellow card that, thankfully, now gets rendered insignificant by the yellow card amnesty this weekend.
Heitinga and Distin are clearly Everton's strongest current defensive partnership at centre-back, but Moyes has shown remarkable faith in Jagielka, even though he has recently been less than fully effective. He did chalk up a rare assist for Nikica Jelavic's first goal at Carrow Road, though, and Moyes could either reconstitute the prime pairing as final preparation for Saturday or even rest the ageing but irrepressible Distin as well?
Given the short 46-hour break since the Norwich game finished, and realistic concerns about the risk of injury to key players, the likes of Tim Cahill, Tony Hibbert and perhaps Jelavic could also be rested, though in the interests of maintaining momentum, too many changes to the primary line-up could have a negative effect on these immeasurable factors.
Nevertheless, depending on how much Moyes mixes things up, there could be opportunities of the likes of Duffy, Anichebe, McFadden, Rodwell, Barkley, Stracqualursi and Vellios.
Sunderland will no doubt be looking to exact revenge on the side that so comprehensively outplayed them on March 27, and squad rotation for Everton could play into their hands, but while confidence remains high and the team continues to play the incisive brand of football they have been exhibiting lately, a home win is still a good bet.
|Premier League Scores|
|Premier League Table|
|2011-12 Reports Index|
|Neville (83' Coleman)|
|Fellaini (77' Anichebe)|
|McFadden (63' Drenthe)|
|Subs not used|
|Vaughan (Wickham )|
|Subs not used|
|Premier League Scores|
|Aston Villa||1-1||Stoke City|
|Man City||4-0||West Brom|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||39|
|16||Queens Park Rangers||31|