Everton 4 - 0 Aston Villa
Romelu Lukaku became the fourth Premier League player to pass 50 goals before the age of 23.
Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku grabbed a brace apiece as Everton eased to an emphatic 4-0 win over the Premier League's bottom side and extended their unbeaten in all competitions to four matches.
With neither Leighton Baines nor Tom Cleverley risked and Brendan Galloway available to play following a thigh injury, Roberto Martinez named an unchanged team from the one that had started at West Ham a fortnight ago.
Meanwhile, new Villa boss Remi Garde left his main aerial threat, Rudy Gustede, on the bench and had clearly instructed his charges to pull themselves behind the ball and make the Blues break them down. It was a tactic that seemed to working in the early going but when Everton upped the tempo in the 17th minute, they sliced through the visitors with a quick passing move from the back and opened the scoring.
Barkley flicked on John Stones's forward pass and was on hand to tuck home at the back post after Gerard Deulofeu's side-foot ball had been palmed into his path by Brad Guzan.
The American then had to make an excellent save to deny Arouna Kone from Deulofeu's cut-back before Lukaku doubled the lead with 27 minutes gone. The Belgian's initial right-foot shot from Deulofeu's pass was blocked but he picked himself up quickly to meet Coleman's clipped cross and guide a header inside the far post.
With their defensive game plan shot to pieces inside the first half an hour, Villa were forced to open up more in an attempt to get back into the game and that created more space for Everton to exploit coming forward and carve out a third goal shortly before half time.
Determined play by Lukaku and then Kone as he latched onto the former's flick over the top and dug the ball out of a tangle of legs led to Barkley banging home the loose ball from a central position to send the Blues into the interval in an unassailable position.
The second half was predictably less intense from the home side and Villa had a couple of opportunities to make a game of it – firstly, when Ramiro Funes Mori's weak backpass let Veretout in but Tim Howard charged the chance down impressively; and then when Kieran Richardson's wickedly swerving effort almost wrong-footed the 'keeper but Howard readjusted in mid-air and made a strong one-handed save.
Another slick Everton move killed the game completely just short of the hour mark, however, with the pick of the four goals. Stones was again involved with an excellent forward pass that released Deulofeu into space and when his pass was steered into Lukaku's path with a deft first-time ball from Barkley, the striker made no mistake, lifting it over the stranded Guzan.
Galloway almost grabbed his first Everton goal when he popped up just outside the six-yard box to lash a loose ball goalwards but his shot cannoned off Kevin Mirallas and behind while Guzan tipped the latter's free kick around the post and then bravely went down at the feet of Lukaku to prevent the Blues' No.10 from completing his hat-trick late on.
The result took Everton's tally to 10 goals in their last two home games and takes them into seventh place in the table, for the time being at least, ahead of the trip to Bournemouth next weekend. Lukaku, meanwhile, becomes the fourth Premier League player to pass 50 goals before the age of 23 as he notched his 10th and 11th of the season.
Quotes sourced from ToffeeWeb Match Report
- Ken Buckley: From My Seat