EVERTON 4 (Jelavic 7, 40, Fellaini 17, Cahill 60) – FULHAM 0
Nikica Jelavic extended his remarkable scoring spree to 10 in 13 matches as Everton ran in a glut of goals for the third successive league match against a Fulham side who were completely outplayed. The Croatia international scored twice before half-time with Marouane Fellaini and substitute Tim Cahill also netting for the Blues. It was Steven Pienaar though, who was man of the match, with three assists in a scintillating, creative performance. Tony Hibbert too was outstanding, this writer rubbed his eyes; who was this exciting wing-back whipping in cross after cross, had Moyes secretly signed Bayern’s Philipp Lahm? No it was Hibbo, still goal-less of course, but in a rich vein of form, enterprising, exciting and assured.
David Moyes named the same starting eleven as at Old Trafford last Sunday, with Sylvain Distin covering for the injured Leighton Baines at left-back. Many eyes in the home crowd were on Texan Clint Dempsey who has been strongly linked with a move to Goodison in the summer, however it was another striker, Nikica Jelavic, who is fast developing a reputation as a clinical finisher, who stole the limelight.
After just seven minutes he struck a free-kick to which Pavel Pogrebnyak raised his hand; Phil Dowd pointed to the spot and the centre-forward made the conversion look easy. Minutes later Jelavic struck the woodwork following a superb piece of skill, impossibly controlling the ball with his instep and shooting in one instant. On seventeen minutes Fellaini extended the lead. Hardly inconspicuous and, as at Old Trafford, playing in a more advanced role, the Belgian rose unmarked to head home a Pienaar corner. Everton were oozing confidence and their grip on the game was absolute. The third came when Jelavic rounded Mark Schwarzer, allowed the Australian to regain his composure, only to shoot low between his legs. Tim Cahill, on as a half-time substitute for the injured Darron Gibson, added a fourth on the hour when he interchanged passes delightfully with Pienaar and toe-poked home before giving the corner flag some long overdue punishment in front of the Gwladys Street end.
With twelve goals in their last three league games and an eighth top eight finish of Davis Moyes’ tenure looking likely, Everton are finishing the season strongly. That FA Cup defeat now seems a long time ago and clearly stands out as a rogue result, out of keeping with the team’s form and capabilities. Call us old-fashioned and sentimental but with new sponsor Nike about to unveil their kit this would be the perfect time to award Everton’s latest centre-forward Nikica Jelavic the number 9 shirt.
Everton (4-2-3-1): Howard; Hibbert, Heitinga, Jagielka, Distin; Neville©, Gibson (Cahill 46); Osman, Fellaini (Barkley 75), Pienaar (Gueye 84); Jelavic
Unused subs: Mucha, Stracqualursi, McFadden, Anichebe
Fulham (4-4-1-1): Schwarzer; Riise, Hangeland, Senderos (Baird 46), Hughes; Duff, Diarra (Etuhu 82), Dembele, Frei; Dempsey; Pogrebniak (Murphy 66)
Unused subs: Stockdale, Kasami, Kacaniklic, Sa
Referee: Phil Dowd