EVERTON FC thrashed Sunderland 4-0 as they consolidated their hold on seventh place in the Premier League and signed off their preparations for Wembley in style.

The Blues had the better of a lacklustre first half, in which Martin O’Neill’s side barely turned-up, and then ran riot in the second, courtesy of fine performances from Magaye Gueye and Steven Pienaar.

David Moyes had rested some key performers with half a mind on Saturday’s all Merseyside FA Cup semi-final, but it did not stop the unbeaten momentum of his men, who recorded their biggest win in more than a year.

As predicted the Toffees boss made further changes from the side that drew with Norwich. Leighton Baines was denied his 100th consecutive league appearance, taking due rest despite being the only natural left back in the senior squad. Phil Neville filled his position, while Sylvain Distin was also rested.

In midfield, Marouane Fellaini retained his place, and Leon Osman returned, while James McFadden was given a rare start with Tim Cahill also given the day off.

Moyes admitted after Saturday’s game that his new goal-scorer Nikica Jelavic also needed a break, so he too was told to put his feet up and Denis Stracqualursi was started against the visitors who still have not beaten a Moyes side and must be sick of the sight of the Merseysiders.

The first half will not linger long in the memory, but Everton mounted a couple of quick attacks after the break, and got the break their endeavours deserved. Tony Hibbert did well to win a corner, and although it was cleared, Pienaar headed back across goal for Leon Osman to unleash a fierce volley. Simon Mignolet could only parry the stinger, and Gueye got there first to lash home the rebound and record his first goal for the Blues in timely fashion.

The breakthrough forced Sunderland into a semblance of adventure, but the hosts were defending resolutely and trying to double their advantage, with Pienaar becoming increasingly influential.

And the South African soon went one further. Substitute Royston Drenthe looked sharp on his re-introduction to the side, and burst down the right to find Gueye who had drifted across. The Frenchman squared for Pienaar, who had time to stop and curl a deft finish beyond the dive of Mignolet.

It got better. Buoyed by his impressive form, Gueye began to relax and show the extent of his ability. He chipped the ball over to Osman, who scored with a carbon copy of Pienaar’s curler.

The visitors were thoroughly deflated, and Victor Anichebe rubbed salt in their wounds. Pienaar was in rampant mood, and crossed for the Nigerian international who had his first strike blocked but his second found off the unfortunate Jack Colback.

It means the Blues head to the capital in confident mood, with their place in the table above Liverpool guaranteed and a number of interesting selection options open to Moyes for the big day.

EVERTON: (4-2-3-1) Howard, Hibbert, Heitinga, Jagielka, Neville (Capt) (Coleman, 83) Osman, Fellaini (Anichebe, 78), Pienaar, Gueye, McFadden (Drenthe, 65), Stracqualursi.

Subs not used: Mucha, Gibson, Distin, Duffy.


Goals: Gueye (52) Pienaar (75) Osman (76) Anichebe (81)

SUNDERLAND: (4-1-4-1) Mignolet, Bardsley (Richardson, 58) , Kilgallon, Turner, Colback, Cattermole (Capt) (Ji, 68), McClean, Gardner, Vaughan (Wickham, 76) Larsson, Sessengnon.

Sub not used: Westwood, Bridge, Meyler. Krygiakos.

Bookings: Cattermole, Richardson


Referee: Kevin Friend

Attendance: 32,249