Everton Logo

Everton 5 - 0 Sunderland

Half-time: 3 - 0

Sunderland Logo
FA Carling Premiership 1999-2000 – Game 19
3 pm Sunday 26 December 1999
Goodison Park, Merseyside
Att: 40,017
« Exeter City (h) Ref: Steven Lodge Bradford City (a) »
[1999-2000 Fixtures & Results] League Position: 8th [Premiership Results & Table]
Richard Gough set to return The biggest crowd of the season at Goodison Park provided a rousing welcome back to one of their old favourites, Peter Reid, for only his second visit as manager of the highly successful Sunderland team. Reid brought back a young player he stole from Everton for a mere £500,000. Goalscoring midfielder Gavin McCann is now rated at £3M.

A nice move with Unsworth and Pembridge set up Hutchison who scored well after 15 mins. Then Hutch made it two with a stunning 25-yd strike. And to top off the first half perfectly, Richard Gough did some great work to set up Jeffers who slotted home the third. Great stuffing by Everton!

Despite a brave attempt by Peter Reid to inject some attacking force into the Sunderland team at half-time, Everton continued to make chances in the second half, and Pembridge scored his first goal for Everton after 60 mins.Campbell rounded off the day with a nicely taken goal to make it FIVE! Take that, Peter Reid! (Sorry, la!)



EVERTON: Hutchison (16', 25'), Jeffers (41'), Pembridge (62'), Campbell (72') 
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used 
EVERTON: Gerrard; Unsworth, Weir, Gough, Dunne; Barmby (73' Cleland), Hutchison, Collins, Pembridge; Campbell, Jeffers (73' Moore).
Xavier, Gemmill, Ward, Williamson (injured); Branch, Myhre, Phelan (on loan); Bilic (in limbo); Parkinson (retired); O'Kane (transferred to Bolton Wanderers) Grant (transferred to Manchester City).
Watson, Cadamarteri, Simonsen.
Sunderland: Sorensen; Bould, Butler, Makin; Schwarz, Roy (37' Williams), McCann, Summerbee; Kilbane, Quinn, Gray (46' Reddy). Marriott, Rae, Oster.
   Playing Strips  Formations
EVERTON: Royal Blue shirts; white shorts; blue socks. 4-4-2; 5-3-2
Sunderland: Red & white shirts; black shorts; red socks. 4-4-2; 3-4-3
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
EVERTON: Weir (54')
Sunderland: Kilbane (35'), McCann (40')

Steve Bickerton 1-2-3-4-5 Nil!
Ste Daley Peter Reid IS an Evertonian
Richard Marland Party-Time!
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Kenwright's £20m takeover deal inspires Everton
by Steve Thomson
THE INDEPENDENT Everton's five-star performance heralds new era
by Derick Allsop
THE TIMES Kenwright acclaimed as Everton steal the limelight
by Stephen Wood
EFC NEWS SITE Link to the Echo/Daily Post Match Report

THE GUARDIAN Link to Football Unlimited Match Report
SPORTING LIFE Link to PA Sports Match Report
SOCCERNET Link to SoccerNet Match Report
CARLINGNET Link to CarlingNet Match Report

 1-2-3-4-5 Nil!
Steve Bickerton
With Santa arriving earlier than anticipated on Christmas Eve, resplendent in white hair and dark rimmed specs, I was now able to look forward to a Christmas which might someday be one of those that stay in the memory for a long time.

The festive spirit had been conspicuous by its absence in the run up, but the 24th is as good a time as any for it to arrive in all its glory. Christmas Eve was to be a night without P's (though my bedtime predilections will not be regaled here for all and sundry to snigger and guffaw over) shadow hanging over it. Boxing Day at Goodison promised to be a day to remember with Billy boy paraded before an adoring public.

All it needed to join in the celebration was to be able to get to the ground on time. No such luck. I was still at home at twenty to three, saying goodbye to dallying relatives, who'd been told earlier, "You're out by 2, I've got a match to go to." Did they listen?

I still got there though to hear the strains of "Z Cars" playing as I made my way to my seat. Mind you, I wasn't alone in the tardiness department; it seems Billy boy got caught up in the late rush too – no longer the bridesmaid, he took the bride's prerogative to turn up 12 minutes late for the wedding... and what a wedding awaited us. Even the groom's family got warm applause with chants of "Peter Reid's an Evertonian" and a rousing reception for the returning Gavin McCann.

The first few minutes were a typical cut and thrust, bluster and bravado opening, both sides trying to make something of tricky conditions – drizzly rain, bit of a swirling breeze – Sunderland by hoisting the ball long to all elbows and legs, Niall Quinn and us fairing not much better, though at least trying to hit it for runners, of which there were plenty on the day.

Early on we had a few chances to make something of promising openings but, as with the Exeter game, the expectation was much better than the delivery. Yet there was a confidence about the movement on the pitch. The midfield seemed to be pushing forward a bit more than of late, the distribution was much better and there was a general feeling that Sunderland's league position belied their real talents. They were there for the taking.

Pembridge, who seemed, like Worsel Gummidge, to have his thinking head on today, was racing down the left, taking on the defence, as though he knew what he was doing. Backed up by the tireless Unsworth, he had probably his best game in the Royal Blue. Having failed to deliver with an earlier cross, though, much of the same was expected when a ball from Jeffers, wide on the left, found him in space on the left edge of the box. He scuffed his cross, I believe, but who cares, when it fell invitingly for Hutchison to slam the ball home from 15 yards. If Pembridge meant it, I apologise, but I can't believe he did. But what a finish! Scoring against the Mackems must have been pure delight for Geordie Don.

After that it really was a case of how many. They did make Gerrard work for one save in that half, but that's all I remember. We just harried and pressed and played exquisite stuff all over the park. The second was a case in point. A scrap in midfield and we fail to get an advantage from a play-on by the referee.

The play was called back and Unsworth delivered the ball menacingly into the box from the dead-ball. Bould headed it away into no-mans land, but Don was there again, following up for the second ball unlike in any other game this season. Smack, 25 yards, the net bursts and Goodison erupted.

Could it be that Don sees a new contract looming, with three wages trimmed from the bill in the last two weeks and a new leader at the helm? What better time to deliver a class performance? Hutchison 2 Mackems 0.

It really was a demonstration of just how good we should aspire to be every week. A majestic run from Gough, surging forward from his own half, beating two men and delivering an inch perfect pass to the right foot of Jeffers. Franny strode forward and hit the ball unerringly past Sorenson in the Sunderland net. 3 - 0 and game over. It could have been more by half time.

The second half was a procession – with Pembridge making his way onto the scoresheet. It had been a terrific move which had ended with Campbell being denied by the legs of Sorensen. The ball fell to both Hutchison and Jeffers. On another day there'd have been a quick chat amongst them about who should strike the ball as a defender nipped in and took the ball away, but not today. Franny took control and seeing Pembridge coming in at the far post, drilled the ball across the box, inch perfect for Pembridge to sidefoot the ball home. 4 - 0 and coasting.

Barmby and Campbell were the two who had deserved to score at this point and Campbell finally got his breakthrough three quarters of the way through the game. What a goal to break a non-scoring sequence! Hutchison passed the ball to him as he waited back to goal on the edge of the box, two defenders in close attendance. A quick flick between the unexpecting pair, a swivel of the hips as he danced through the gap and a sweet strike as the ball found the goal. 5 - 0. Up went the chant..."1-2-3-4-5 Nil!" all around the ground.

Barmby was next to find the net, or so we thought as two excellent efforts went unrewarded. The second was a goal all the way and as we started to celebrate a defender nipped in and touched Nick's neat chip over the keeper around the post. Then the goal of the game. A great move as the ball was delivered out of defence. It made its way to Jeffers who, 35 yards out, tore down on the Sunderland goal, with defenders still to beat. And beat them he did and drove the ball, with a terrific strike, into the net. Yet the flag was up for offside. How? When? I couldn't believe it. Maybe someone in the Bullens Road could elucidate?

After that it calmed down and we reshaped as the unfortunate Barmby was replaced by Joe Max-Moore, who took to the field for his home (league) debut. Strains of "U-S-A" were heard as he was welcomed onto the pitch. We also saw Cleland replace Jeffers as Walter decided to bolt the door and stick with five. But still we could have made it six.

As the final whistle went the standing ovation was reserved for the boys in blue and not the gutsy lads in red and white stripes, as it had been in midweek. If the banner dangling from the Upper Gwladys Street Stand ("Bill, You're Our Hero") was a sign of our increased hopes for the future, the display on the field showed that even the players may have been lifted by the news from the boardroom.

 Peter Reid IS an Evertonian
Ste Daley
I finally conceded defeat and got out of bed.

The bright light half awakens me, the annoying ring tone of my phone completes the job ....

"Ste, me ma's givin' us a lift – be here in twenty" was the main gist of the phone call. Nice one, I've just got up, I'm not dressed, not clean and I'm starving.

The next five minutes is wasted deciding whether to get ready and knock at me mates for the aforementioned lift, or to sod them all and get the bus. Being a lazy bastard I start to make some sort of a shape.

Suitably clothed and reasonably clean I venture into the kitchen for a quick bite, only to find a half-eaten turkey filling the fridge.

Now if I'm out of line here, fine but I'm sure most people will agree with me that turkey is crap, dry, tasteless and so god damned ugly it should be illegal. A turkey buttie was the last thing I could be bothered eating.

Anyway, round to my mates and we're off  to the match.

Boxing Day is a bit special in footballing terms, the terraces are usually full regardless of opposition, probably a combination of no work, socialising and money given from the day before. The atmosphere then usually benefits because of the increased numbers, and then there is the match itself. For some reason, defence's get in the festive mood and a bag-full of goals are scored... today was no different.

Peter Reid brought his team to Goodison, lying third in the premiership, everyone's surprise package of the season so far (© Sky Tv)

The teams were read out and I was shocked but nicely surprised at the lack of Kevin Phillips in their line up, I predicted a 5 or 6 nil win to the lad behind me, purely in jest... Wish I'd put a fiver on it now, though!

Not a lot, surprisingly was being said about the Kenwright news, a single banner declaring luvvie to be our hero, and one low chant from the scally regions of the Gwladys, were two of very few references to the whole affair, maybe a case of lets wait till he's actually paid before getting carried away.

Anyway: the football. Well errrmmm from the off we closed down, we passed well, we worked hard, we moved and we thought about our football – a bit like the two goals at Watford, only for a full 90 minutes.

Hutchison got two, the second of which was an excellent shot from outside the box that left many wondering why he doesn't do it more often. Jeffers got one, after a great pass from the returning Richard Gough. Pembridge got one – more about him later – and Super Kev Campbell added the fifth with a great turn in the box and a tidy finish on the stretch.

Pembridge. Well, I hate this bloke. He has the pace of a dead duck for starters, he passes bizarrely to the opposition when under no pressure and his crossing ability is not the highest. Today, however, he worked hard, made plenty of space, set one up and scored another, he almost got a second, but that'd have been too much surely. As I said earlier, I  hate this bloke, but hats off to him today – he had a great game.

It could have been more goals than the 5; Jeffers had one disallowed for a debatable offside, and should have scored a second himself after the keeper flapped at a cross, and Barmby was unlucky on more than one occasion. When he was subbed for Joe-Max Moore, he deserved it. Barmby looked knackered after a hell of a second half where he didn't stop and was all over the pitch, working hard, and playing well, a definite contender for man of the match.

Joe-Max himself could have had two. With the first one, better control or a first-time shot might have opened his account, the second he seemed to lack fitness when bearing down on goal and went down under pressure from the defender scrambling back.

All in all it was an excellent performance with many plus points: Campbell and Jeffers back in the goals, Pembridge best performance for us ever, Gough and Weir re-united again and not to mention a 5-0 win.

Over the coming weeks we have a decent chance of picking up some points, Bradford, Leicester, Southampton, Wimbledon etc do not stand a chance against a team that plays like this. Hopefully the confidence gained from this win will gain us a pot full of points against these teams.

The news of Walter signing a new contract, rounded of a perfect day in the Everton FC supporting land, lets just hope we can maintain this level of performance for a month or so and keep well clear of the relegation fight.

Richard Marland
It was a day resounding with history at Goodison Park, the final home match of the Millennium, and the first match of the new (sic) regime. It was a day that was crying out for a home victory, but could we trust the Blues to deliver?

True, we came into the game with two straight wins but, as these were thanks to two very scratchy performances against Watford and Exeter, we shouldn't have read too much into that. The opposition also came with slightly headier credentials than Watford and Exeter – Sunderland were riding high in the Premiership and, even without leading scorer Phillips, looked dangerous opposition.

Walter kept team changes to a minimum with the returning Richard Gough replacing Alec Cleland. This gave us what I guess must be Walter's first choice line-up of Gerrard in goal, a flat back four of Dunne, Weir, Gough and Unsworth, a midfield of Barmby, Hutchison, Collins and Pembridge with Jeffers and Campbell up front. Today's bench was Simonsen, Cleland, Watson, Cadamarteri and Joe-Max Moore.

With a full house and the typically sizeable, and vocal, Sunderland contingent, the match was a fairly impassioned affair from the outset. As would be expected of any team prepared by Peter Reid, Sunderland were committed, hard working and physical. Fortunately we seemed to be prepared for this; with the likes of Gough, Unsworth, Dunne and Hutchison on board, we weren't going to be found wanting in the physical aspects of the game.

Without Phillips, the Sunderland game plan was a straightforward one: try and take advantage of Niall Quinn's height. With his height he is always going to be a handful; when he also spends much of the time pushing and holding (and getting away with it), then he is a difficult man to play against. Fortunately, in Gough and Weir, we had two players with the ability and nous to combat him. Yes, he won his fair share in the air but Sunderland were, for the most part, prevented from taking advantage of this.

With Quinn being handled well, Sunderland don't seem to have too much else to offer other than hard work and industry. It became a question, then, of whether we had the fire-power to capitalise ourselves. The early stages didn't give too much indication of what was to come. We were more than matching Sunderland but we weren't showing too much in the way of a cutting edge.

Fifteen minutes into the game, we started to change the face of the game. A long punt towards the left corner of the box was picked up by Jeffers; as he drifted wide, he controlled the ball before pushing it to Pembridge in the box who helped it on to Hutchison in the penalty area. Don took it with his right and found the bottom corner of the net. A neat finish to a nice little move and 1-0 to us.

The second wasn't too long coming: Bould cleared a long-range free kick with his head, the ball fell to Hutchison some way outside the box, he took it first time on the volley and his shot screamed past Sorenson and into the far corner. A goal from nothing and a quite wonderful strike from Hutchison.

This was far, far better than any of us could have imagined. We were more than matching Sunderland and, after a relatively barren spell in front of goal, we were starting to convert our chances again. With memories fresh from Watford, we knew that this wasn't enough to make us truly comfortable. Fortunately the team seemed to realise this and continued to press forward.

The reward for our continued enterprise came just before half-time. Gough picked the ball up in the midfield area, he moved forward into space before delivering a delightful pass for Jeffers to run on to, Jeffers took the ball in his stride and beat the 'keeper conclusively. 3-0 by half time, wonderful stuff.

The early stages of the second half brought a predictable reaction from a Sunderland team who had just had to face Peter Reid in the dressing room. Without seriously threatening the goal they did bring the game to us for about 10 or 15 minutes. We coped pretty well but you couldn't help wondering exactly what would happen to us if Sunderland did manage to get one back.

Fortunately, before Sunderland could ask too many awkward questions about our resolution, our fourth and game-clinching goal arrived. Campbell was put through on goal – his shot was saved by the 'keeper's legs and Franny Jeffers picked the ball up outside the area. I thought he was going to go for glory himself which would have been the wrong decision as the angle was all wrong for him. Instead, he looked up and saw Pembridge unmarked beyond the far post, he then played an immaculate pass across the face of goal, cutting out the 'keeper and the entire defence and leaving Pembridge with a simple tap-in. It was a lovely piece of awareness by Jeffers and shows just what a special player he is going to be.

With the match won, it was party time. Sunderland were reeling and we seemed to be creating chances at will. Jeffers had one ruled out on a marginal offside decision, Nick Barmby had a couple of close calls. However, it was left to Kevin Campbell to apply the coup de grace. He was found by yet another defence-splitting pass from Don Hutchison; on the turn he dragged it into his path before dispatching it past Sorenson. It was a truly wonderful finish.

With the Bradford game came looming large, it was time to step off the gas. Barmby and Jeffers, their work done, were brought off to be replaced by Joe-Max Moore and Alec Cleland. The game was won and it was just a case of letting the clock run down and celebrate a thumping good win.

  • Gerrard 7 Don't think he had a proper save to make. A few shaky moments when he was slow to come and claim through balls that came into the box, but nothing too alarming.
  • Dunne 7 Still not as assured as he looked prior to the Man Utd game but still a good, hardworking performance.
  • Unsworth 7 Continuing an excellent season. He has been wonderfully consistent this season.
  • Gough 8 After some initial shakiness he was his usual immaculate, commanding self. His contribution to Jeffers' goal also shows that he his more than just a basic blocker.
  • Weir 7 Better than of late, clearly benefitting from Gough's reassuring presence, and ultimately an accomplished performance.
  • Barmby 7 Perhaps not as good as he has been of late but still plenty of good moments.
  • Hutchison 7 Two goals and a wonderful pass to supply Campbell isn't a bad afternoon's work. I left the ground thinking that aside from that he hadn't done too much else, but having now seen Match of the Day and seen the number of dangerous passes he supplied maybe he did better than I was originally giving him credit for.
  • Collins 7 Lots of hard work and tidy play. Nearly played himself, and us, into a trouble on a couple of occasions, but all in all a fine afternoon's work.
  • Pembridge 7 His most effective performance for us yet. Supplied a goal and a lot of industry.
  • Jeffers 7 A well taken goal and there could have been more. A good all round display but I still think there is better to come from him.
  • Campbell 6 I've felt that he's been a little out of sorts of late. Didn't seem to contribute too much today, but you have to give him credit for a wonderfully taken goal. Maybe that will be the spark he needs to get back to his best.
  • Cleland 6 Not on long, did OK.
  • Moore 6 Looked quite lively, but on his one chance got muscled out of it rather too easily.

Team 7 A true team performance. Everybody played well without anyone being outstanding.

Man of the match – Richard Gough – a masterful defensive display.

 Kenwright's £20M takeover deal inspires Everton
Steve Thomson, Electronic Telegraph
THIS rampaging display heralded a new era at Everton. Five goals without reply against the third-placed club in the Premiership was the best possible way to celebrate the £20 million purchase of the club by theatre impresario Bill Kenwright and a two-year extension to manager Walter Smith's contract.

The precise details of the deal in which Jersey-based businessman Peter Johnson hands over control to Kenwright have yet to be finalised but a basic agreement has already been reached. Johnson's boardroom involvement at both Goodison Park and Tranmere Rovers contravened regulations, and his decision to step down after months of uncertainty will come as a mighty relief to the football authorities and Everton supporters.

It was as if the shackles had been lifted – not only in Everton's corridors of power but also on the pitch, where Smith has been hindered by lack of transfer investment while the ownership issue has been up in the air.

Don Hutchison, who hit yesterday's first two goals, made telling assists for a couple more and gave an exemplary, all-round, midfield display. Kevin Campbell, with his ninth goal of the campaign, Francis Jeffers, with his sixth, and Mark Pembridge, with his first for the club, were also on the scoresheet.

Smith said: "Our performance in the first half was terrific. That set the tone and that's as well as we played here this season."

Everton, in fact, are unbeaten at home, but former favourite Peter Reid, the Sunderland manager, had never expected such a rude homecoming. "I'm from just down the road and I never want to get beaten here," he said. "But we got a bit of a battering today and lost the individual battles all over the park."

Sunderland were pushed on to the back foot from the outset but such was their tenacious defending, veteran Steve Bould making several crucial interceptions, that they seemed capable of weathering the early storm. When Everton did break through in the 15th minute, it required an element of good fortune.

Jeffers gained possession on the left and fed the ball through to Pembridge, whose scuffed attempt at a cross fell perfectly into Hutchison's path for the Scotland international to stroke home into the bottom corner.

Ten minutes later, Hutchison drove in a spectacular, 25-yard volley following a free-kick from David Unsworth.

The visitors' response was hampered by the absence of hamstring victim Kevin Phillips, who has scored 19 goals this season. His replacement Kevin Kilbane, normally a wide player, was making his first start since his move from West Bromwich. He looked oddly out of place alongside Niall Quinn and showed little of Phillips' instinct for reading Quinn's flicks and knockdowns.

Everton's increasing assurance at the back received no better illustration than the marauding run forward by 37-year-old Richard Gough which led to the third goal. Gough, recalled after shrugging off a thigh strain, finished it off with a slide-rule pass, sending Jeffers clean through to finish clinically.

The home team continued in rampant mood after the break and just past the hour, Pembridge side-footed in after fine work by Hutchison, Campbell and Jeffers. The rout was completed by Campbell, spinning cleverly on to Hutchison's pass to stab in left-footed past Thomas Sorensen.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

 Everton's five-star performance heralds new era
by Derick Allsop, The Independent
Peace has broken out in the corridors of power and Everton look like a club intent on declaring war on all comers to Goodison Park.

Sunderland had the misfortune yesterday of finding themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. They contributed to their own demise with uncharacteristic charity, much to the dismay of their manager, Peter Reid, once an inspirational player here.

He was a helpless bystander as Don Hutchison, the most influential member of the current Everton team, effectively consigned Sunderland to defeat within 25 minutes.

The Scotland international, who hopes Bill Kenwright's control of the club will pave the way to the new contract he seeks, demonstrated the sublime and ruthless streak of his nature with two stunning goals.

Francis Jeffers extended Everton's lead before half-time, and Mark Pembridge and Kevin Campbell completed the annihilation.

Sunderland's task was scarcely helped by an injury which deprived them of the services of their leading scorer, Kevin Phillips, but they had glaring deficiencies in every department. Kevin Kilbane, assigned to support Niall Quinn in the first half, was no more culpable than a fragile defence and an overwhelmed midfield.

It would be hasty to suggest this result has scuppered any realistic prospect of Champions' League football on Wearside next season, but tomorrow's home match against Manchester United assumes ever greater significance for Reid and his team.

Pembridge's lack of control spoiled a wonderfully flowing, incisive early move by Everton. Barmby and Campbell combined to switch play from their own half to space on the left, only for Pembridge to be muscled off the ball by Nicky Summerbee.

Pembridge atoned for his carelessness in the 16th minute by playing a crucial part in the creation of Hutchison's first goal. Again Everton found the left flank fertile ground and Pembridge's low ball into the area arrived at the feet of his captain, who placed it wide of Thomas Sorensen with absolute conviction.

Hutchison's second, nine minutes later, was dispatched with equal assurance after Sunderland merely half cleared a free kick from David Unsworth. Stefan Schwarz hesitated, Hutchison did not, striking the ball fiercely beyond Sorensen's right hand.

Jeffers might have scored between those two goals. Instead he took the ball too wide of Sorensen and all routes to colleagues were cut off by Sunderland's back-tracking defenders.

The striker, presented with a club "Young Player of the Year" award before the match, settled for a more direct course when Richard Gough, restored to the defence, demonstrated his versatility with an exquisite through ball. This time Jeffers, darting into the gap, shot past the advancing Sorensen and Everton were three up.

Sunderland mustered only token responses in that one-sided first half, Quinn's flicked header stretched Paul Gerrard and Schwarz warmed the goalkeeper's hands from distance.

Most of their play floundered in midfield, where Everton's greater appetite and superior craft denied them the scope to develop their familiar, efficient and productive moves.

Reid sacrificed Michael Gray to send on Michael Reddy after the interval in an attempt to salvage something from the seemingly hopeless cause.

Their plight could have been compounded after 54 minutes, when Chris Makin's line of communication with Sorensen broke down and Jeffers was given a glimpse of goal. He chastised himself for stabbing the ball wide.

Sunderland's reprieve was brief. Hutchison's delightful pass put Campbell through and, although he was repelled, Jeffers provided Pembridge with a simple fourth after 61 minutes.

Barmby's chip deserved a goal but Makin intervened. Campbell refused to be deprived by Paul Butler and made it five after 72 minutes.

Reid admitted: "We've had a bit of a battering. They were on fire. They won all the battles all over the pitch and we paid the penalty. We've got to put that out of our minds. I'm sure we'll play better on Tuesday. We got a mauling at Chelsea on the first day and it's how you react."

Report © The Independent

 Kenwright acclaimed as Everton steal the limelight
by Stephen Wood, The Times
BILL KENWRIGHT was late for his own party, but while the entertainers of Goodison Park were intent on making it go with a swing, there was no need for recriminations. Feelings of frustration, insecurity and bitterness have festered at Everton over the past 13 months, but the events of yesterday served as a release on a collective scale.

Sunderland were nothing but compliant. Given that it occurred just 48 hours after Kenwright, the self-styled theatre impresario, was informed that he had succeeded in a bid for control of the club that he has supported all his life, there will be a great temptation on one half of Merseyside to proclaim a new dawn.

Certainly, Everton are crying out for one, but wild pronouncements can wait. For the moment, Kenwright deserves the glow of satisfaction that the players enabled him to indulge in. He has worked tirelessly and risked every aspect of his livelihood to initiate the £20 million buyout of Peter Johnson's 68% majority shareholding. The deal values the club at approximately £30 million, and it should be rubber-stamped by January 25. If Kenwright's ownership is as irresistible in practice as his appeal has been in theory, then Everton cannot fail to prosper.

The problems have not vanished overnight, of course. They are still £15 million in debt, but the financial stability that Kenwright brings gives them a chance of slowly chipping away at that figure – probably via a new share issue – while lending them more clout in the transfer market. Moreover, the harmony that Kenwright provides is priceless.

His assumption of power has pleased Walter Smith, the manager, so much that it was announced last night that Smith had signed a two-year extension to his contract, keeping him in charge until the summer of 2003. That news is as welcome as Kenwright's success, for Smith has demonstrated that he can produce a team capable of performing with vigour even in the most trying of circumstances.

Yesterday, Everton surpassed even that watermark. Kenwright took his seat 12 minutes into the game, just in time to to see two goals from Don Hutchison, and one apiece from Francis Jeffers, Mark Pembridge and Kevin Campbell. Smith was moved to describe it as "the best we have played in my time".

It completed an enjoyable Christmas for Kenwright. "I cried when I was told I had succeeded," Kenwright said last night. "It has been a very difficult year, because there was no guarantee that I would manage it. My mum still thinks I'm mad, but I am a very happy man. We have no magic wand, but there is hope for us now."

The only disappointment is that they cannot be met with Sunderland's raggedness every week. To their credit, Everton showed no mercy in front of goal, with Hutchison instrumental in everything they did. The Everton captain began the scoring after 15 minutes, when his run from deep enabled him to latch on to Pembridge's sliced shot and beat Sorensen, the goalkeeper. Ten minutes later Bould's poor headed clearance was lashed past Sorensen from 25 yards by Hutchison.

Four minutes before half-time, the visiting side stood still to allow Jeffers to score. Just after the hour, Pembridge side-footed home from close range before Campbell recorded the fifth goal after an exquisite turn.

Amid this jamboree of extraordinary Everton excellence, Sunderland never seriously threatened to reduce the deficit, and it had nothing to do with the fact that Quinn was not fully fit, or that Phillips's hamstring strain had ruled him out altogether.

It was, in fact, their biggest defeat under the management of Peter Reid, and it allowed Leeds United and Manchester United to gain further daylight at the top of the Premiership. "We were well beaten by Chelsea on the opening day of the season, but we reacted positively to it," Reid said. "Now we have to put this to the back of our minds and start again." The opportunity comes around quickly: Manchester United are the visitors to the Stadium of Light tomorrow.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd


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