EVERTON 6 (Lukaku 1, 29, 83, 84, McCarthy 23, Barkley 90+2) – BOURNEMOUTH 3 (King 59, 70, Arter 90)
When, with a mere 30 seconds gone, Bournemouth’s defenders allowed Romelu Lukaku to execute his favourite manoeuvre, shifting inside from the right to set up a left-footed shot, they were condemned. That they failed to prevent it probably wasn’t down to bad preparation, after all my two-year-old springer knows this is his number one party trick; Lukaku was just too strong, his power overwhelmed them. And so it was all afternoon. His speed, strength and clarity of thought simply swamped the Cherries; he set up McCarthy for Everton’s second with a crisp cut back after muscling past Mings and Pugh and scored the third, fourth and fifth, before Ross Barkley put away the sixth, this the only goal that Lukaku wasn’t involved in.
Ronald Koeman, ever the down to earth pragmatist, rather than getting carried away with the six goal haul was left quietly fuming about the three conceded and the relaxation and drop in intensity which allowed Bournemouth to dictate things after half-time and get back into a game which should have been dead and buried. Why did his players stand off and invite the visitors to play? “If you drop your level, don’t win second balls and give them the freedom to play then it’s difficult,” Koeman said of Bournemouth’s threatened comeback. “It was a great game for the fans. Not for me after half-time”
Koeman knows too that the central defensive partnership of Williams and Funes Mori is not good enough; it was only after the introduction of Mason Holgate on 80 minutes and the Blues changed to three at the back, that control was restored. Presumably this will be addressed in the summer, for now maybe it’s time to try Phil Jagielka again.
The youngsters impressed; Ademola Lookman making his first start kept it mostly simple apart from one exquisite piece of trickery which bought him enough space in the Bournemouth area to get away a shot which bobbled wide. He knows though that he was partially at fault for the visitor’s second goal and gave the ball away in a bad place in the first half, a mistake which on another day might have been calamitous. Tom Davies on for the final thirty minutes was influential again with his powerful running and insightful passing. This boy is improving game on game.
To some observers Ross Barkley sits somewhere between promising youngster and finished article. He was unlucky that Lukaku took the headlines here, because Barkley was magnificent. He was ubiquitous, his work rate and commitment taking him all over the park; he twice robbed Jack Wilshere with crunching tackles deep in the Everton half, it was his clever back heel that released Lukaku for the fifth goal and late on he was the front-man who picked up a long ball out of defence rounded the keeper and ran through to celebrate and then score the sixth.
Everton (4-3-3) (3-4-3 after 80 mins): Robles; Coleman, Williams, Funes Mori, Baines; Barry© (Holgate 80), McCarthy (Davies 61), Schneiderlin; Lookman (Mirallas 71), Barkley, Lukaku
Unused subs: Stekelenburg, Jagielka, Gueye, Valencia
Bournemouth (3-4-2-1): Boruc; Francis© (Smith 46), Cook, Mings; Fraser, Surman, Gosling (Ibe 46), Pugh (Afobe 83); Arter, Wilshere; King
Unused subs: Allsop, Stanislas, Mousset, Cargill
Ref: Mike Jones
Premier League: Saturday 11 February (15:00); Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium
Saturday 25 February (15:00); Sunderland at Goodison