Dominic Calvert-Lewin hit a classy double and Oumar Niasse stepped off the bench to score his first Everton goal as the Blues eased into the fourth round of the Carabao Cup at the the expense of Championship outfit Sunderland.
Neatly-taken strikes in each half from Calvert-Lewin put the hosts in command and the England Under-21 international was only a post’s width away from netting the perfect hat-trick when he saw his second-half header rebound back off the goal frame.
After four successive defeats, it was a welcome return to winning ways for Everton, while the clean sheet - the Blues’ first since the Europa League trip to Split in mid-August - would no doubt have been another big positive for Ronald Koeman.
The Dutchman freshened up his team and the standout news was the inclusion of full-back Jonjoe Kenny, who made his first competitive start for the Club.
Nikola Vlasic, the summer signing from Hajduk Split, also got another chance to show his attacking qualities, while on the bench was Niasse, included in a matchday squad for the first time since May 2016.
Sunderland fielded a side that contained three former Everton players who, between them, had clocked up 238 appearances in the Blue shirt. One of those was James Vaughan - and he spurned a decent early opening, shooting wide after robbing Muhamed Besic of possession just outside the penalty area.
After a quiet opening quarter of an hour, Everton began to create a little more in Sunderland territory, largely due to the willing running of Calvert-Lewin. The Under-20 World Cup winner dragged an effort wide from 20 yards out, either side of crisply-struck but off-target volleys from Vlasic and Sandro Ramirez.
Everton’s Spanish forward brought the first save out of keeper Jason Steele shortly before the half-hour mark with a free-kick from distance that was destined for the top corner, if not for the intervention of the Black Cats Glovesman.
Steele then made an even better save to tip Vlasic’s fierce shot around the post, although referee Oliver Langford incorrectly signalled for a goal-kick.
By the number of chances created, Everton were the better team and the breakthrough arrived five minutes before the interval, courtesy of a composed and well-executed finish from Calvert-Lewin.
The lively Vlasic fed Davy Klaassen, and when the ball was then relayed to Calvert-Lewin, he picked his spot in the bottom corner of the Sir Philip Carter Park Stand net.
Sandro flashed a long-range shot over the target with the last action of the first half and he did exactly the same with the first effort following the restart.
Calvert-Lewin then netted his and Everton’s second goal of the evening in the 53rd minute, with a strike just as well-taken as his opener. He timed his run perfectly, latched onto Sandro’s slide-rule pass and buried his shot into the roof of the net, beating Steele at his near-post.
The youngster was denied his treble moments later, and it was to prove his last action of the match before leaving to a standing ovation with 25 minutes remaining. His replacement, Niasse was given an equally warm reception when he stepped onto the pitch for his first Everton appearance in over a season.
Sunderland’s best opportunity of the second half fell Vaughan’s way, but he nodded inches past the post, and any hopes Simon Grayson’s men had of a comeback were well and truly extinguished by Niasse with seven minutes remaining.
Taking down Tom Davies’ lofted pass with his chest, the Senegal international allowed the ball to drop before thundering past Steele and spinning away to celebrate in front of a rapturous Gwladys Street.
Everton will now be hoping they can take this welcome result into the Premier League, with Bournemouth travelling to Goodison on Saturday - the second in a run of four straight home matches in all competitions.