Saha 4, Beckford 33, Coleman 58, Fellaini 73, Baines 83
Five goals – and five different goal scorers – eased Everton into the FA Cup fourth round by virtue of a 5-1 victory over Championship side Scunthorpe United.
Making a handful of changes from the team that beat Tottenham Hotspur in midweek, but retaining the 4-4-2 formation taken in the absence of Tim Cahill, David Moyes included Tony Hibbert, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Leon Osman in place of Phil Neville, Steven Pienaar and Mikel Arteta. Pienaar dropped out of the squad altogether while Arteta and Neville took thier places on the bench, but none of the displaced trio were needed as Everton’s progress to the next stage was rarely in doubt. An early second half goal from Scunthorpe’s Michael Collins and the ensuing 10 minutes of pressure threatened to upset Everton’s routine win, but the Toffees soon reasserted themselves with a class they have shown too seldom this season.
Even taking into account the bottom three status of their second tier opposition, Everton’s performance was of the highest quality, the Premier League outfit zipping the ball around the Glanford Park pitch with speed and purpose. Perhaps the most striking aspect of Everton’s victory was not the neat possession football they employed, impressive as it was, with its slick interchanges and overlapping runs, but rather the consistently excellent delivery from wide areas by a number of players. Leighton Baines has regularly received deserved praise this season for his ability from the flanks, laying on a number of goals as Everton’s best attacking outlet, but the full-back was matched here by some sumptuous crosses from Leon Osman and Jermaine Beckford, both of which led to goals. While the Scunthorpe marking could have been tighter, the quality of the ball and the well-timed run to match gave the Iron defenders little chance.
The burgeoning partnership between Beckford and Louis Saha was another notable theme of the 90 minutes, with both forwards getting on the score-sheet and Beckford creating a goal for Seamus Coleman too. Beckford had a handful of chances before he met Osman’s centre with a deft flicked header to put Everton two goals clear in the first half and still has the look of a striker straining to remember how he scored so frequently for Leeds United, but such was the effortless nature of his 33rd minute finish, the 27-year-old still clearly possesses a poacher’s instinct. For his part, Saha scored a mirror image of the goal he netted against Spurs on Wednesday and played with as much athleticism and grace as he perhaps ever has in an Everton shirt, dropping into midfield when needed and holding the ball up with intelligence, allowing his teammates to build attacks from that vital initial contribution.
For a team that have struggled not only throughout this season but, when pitched against lower league opposition, in past ones too, the comfort with which Everton dispatched Scunthorpe makes a refreshing change. With the wins and goals now coming, Everton have much to be positive about.
2 Hibbert – 5 Heitinga – 15 Distin – 3 Baines
23 Coleman – 25 Fellaini – 21 Osman – 7 Bilyaletdinov
8 Saha – 16 Beckford
63 – 28 Anichebe on for 8 Saha
74 – 16 Rodwell on for 25 Fellaini
78 – 19 Gueye on for 23 Coleman