Two superb strikes in as many minutes killed off a poor Sunderland team as David Moyes' side go into Sunday's FA Cup semi-final with a confident victory at Goodison Park
Magaye Gueye put the Toffees ahead with a blasted effort from close range before Stephen Pienaar and Leon Osman scored two wonder-goals within a minute of each other.
Substitute Victor Anichebe’s deflected effort then sealed a victory which extends Everton’s unbeaten run over the Black Cats to 18 games in all competitions.
David Moyes made five changes with Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool in mind, bringing in James McFadden for his first league start since returning to Goodison Park, as well as Marouane Fellaini, Denis Stracqualursi, Jonny Heitinga and Osman, while he rested Nikica Jelavic and Tim Cahill.
Sunderland were without striker Nicklas Bendtner, so David Vaughan came back into midfield with Stephane Sessegnon filling the lone-striker role. Phil Bardsley and Lee Cattermole both started despite doubts after they came off against Tottenham on Saturday.
|ANICHEBE WRAPS IT UP
|FROM OUR LIVE COMMENTARY
GOAL!!! Oh dear, Sunderland are well and truly falling apart here as Victor Anichebe has added a fourth for David Moyes' side. The ball came to him on the edge of the box and he swung a foot at the ball - his effort looked to have taken a deflection on his way into the net.
Sunderland were struggling without a target man and, when Sessegnon finally found some space, he tried a through-ball for James McClean which was too far in front of the young winger and it rolled harmlessly through to Tim Howard.
The Toffees had an excellent chance to go in front when Pienaar found space in the middle and squared a pass to Gueye, who then pulled back to the South Africa international, but he got underneath the shot and the ball flew well over the bar.
Fellaini was next to have an attempt as the game looked like opening up, the Belgian drilling a 25-yard effort which whistled wide of Simon Mignolet’s left-hand post.
Everton’s dominance continued to grow but Sunderland nearly went ahead in spectacular fashion five minutes before the break. Bardsley darted down the right wing and whipped in a cross towards Sessegnon, who was unmarked, and the Benin international attempted a bicycle kick which a stationary Howard could only watch as it flew just wide.
Heitinga then did well to win the ball in midfield and pass to McFadden, who worked the ball on to his left foot and shot from 25 yards out, forcing a low stop from Mignolet.
The second half started with more Everton possession and Stracqualursi was able to fend off a challenge to rise and meet another Neville cross, but it was a tame header and easily collected by Mignolet.
Phil Jagielka then met a corner at the near post, flashing a header wide of goal as Sunderland struggled to get out of their half.
And as Sunderland initially cleared another corner, Pieneaar nodded back to Osman whose first-time effort was parried by Mignolet, but only as far as Gueye, who blasted a left-footed shot into the net to finally break the deadlock.
Everton were in complete control, Jagielka finding himself in unfamiliar territory on the edge of the Sunderland area after a delightful pass from substitute Royston Drenthe, but as he stretched to shoot Kilgallon was able to get a block on the ball and it was comfortably collected by Mignolet.
The Black Cats were still struggling for any kind of momentum with 20 minutes to go, and Stracqualursi was able to beat Turner to get on the end of an excellent Gueye cross, but couldn’t direct his effort on target.
Then, on 74 minutes, Gueye received the ball on the edge of the area and squared to Pienaar, who rolled the ball from under his feet to bend a superb shot into the right-hand corner of the net.
The points were sealed a minute later when Osman received a long ball on the edge of the area, and cut inside to score a wonderful curling strike in the same corner as Pienaar had done only moments earlier.
Then Everton added gloss to the scoreline with a fourth. The excellent Pienaar escaped two challenges on the right-hand side to pull back to substitute Anichebe, whose strike was going wide before it deflected off Colback to wrong-foot Mignolet and fly into the net.
Drenthe nearly got in on the act himself with a curling free kick which drifted over, but the game was well won already as Everton cruised to a comfortable victory.
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