Posted on Apr 09
Everton enjoyed the perfect preparation for Saturday's FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool as they routed Sunderland 4-0 at Goodison Park on Monday.
David Moyes' team will head south to Wembley later this week in good heart after their fourth win in five games in all competitions.
The Toffees are now four points clear of Merseyside rivals Liverpool thanks to a second-half goal spree that demolished Sunderland in emphatic fashion.
French midfielder Magaye Gueye opened the scoring and South Africa midfielder Steven Pienaar increased Everton's lead before goals from Leon Osman and Victor Anichebe sealed the rout.
It was the perfect Cup warm-up for Moyes, who was able to rest Leighton Baines, Nikica Jelavic and Tim Cahill and still secure Everton's biggest win of the season.
Sunderland had extra motivation after losing out to Everton in an FA Cup quarter-final replay last month, but their last victory over the Toffees in the Premier League came way back in December 2001.
There was little between the teams in a dour first half which saw Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini waste a decent opening, while Sunderland striker Stephane Sessegnon sent his overhead kick just wide.
Everton finally upped their tempo at the start of the second half and they scored from the third of three corners in quick succession in the 52nd minute.
James McFadden's delivery was cleared but only as far as Pienaar, who headed the ball into the path of Osman.
His fierce shot was blocked by Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet but the rebound fell for Gueye to smash in his first Everton goal from a tight angle.
Everton killed off Sunderland with two goals in the space of a minute.
Pienaar got on the scoresheet in the 75th minute with a curling shot from the edge of the area into the far corner.
And in the 76th minute, Osman controlled a long ball on his chest before turning inside and placing a superb shot into the corner of Mignolet's net.
Anichebe came off the bench to complete the rout in the 81st minute.
Pienaar wriggled away from two defenders in the corner and picked out Anichebe and the striker fired past Mignolet via a deflection off Jack Colback.