Swansea v Everton
Thirty efforts, 19 on target, 60 per cent possession, three goals and three points.
Everton produced a classy, dominant display to once again illustrate that their early-season hype isn’t just hype.
Victor Anichebe thumped home the opener to crown a sweat-soaked display, Kevin Mirallas’ first league goal doubled the lead on the stroke of half-time and Marouane Fellaini’s late header simply underlined their superiority.
Yet despite the Blues’ very real and statistical monopoly, Tim Howard had to make two critical saves – one each side of the interval – with the second a breathtaking stop to deny Ki Sung-Yeung.
That shouldn’t detract from Everton’s brilliance, however, in a game where they could have scored eight.
Swansea looked bedraggled as the Blues pulled them around in the closing stages – their plight by then worsened by a crazy red card for Nathan Dyer who, just minutes after talking his way into the book, blew a gasket and wildly kicked out at Leighton Baines.
David Moyes had shuffled his injury-depleted pack, opting to drop Sylvain Distin and look to John Heitinga. Seamus Coleman replaced the injured Tony Hibbert at right back and, with Nikica Jelavic’s knee a deep shade of purple, Anichebe started up top.
It didn’t take long for him to threaten.
Baines provided the opportunity with a booming cross from the left and the Swansea keeper, Michel Vorm, made an awkward fumbling save to keep out the burly Nigerian’s header.
The Dutch glovesman was set for a torrid afternoon.
Mirallas was next to test him and the Belgian’s low drive had Vorm squirming again. Anichebe recycled possession and when it came back Mirallas again hit the target – this time with his head.
As the game neared the 20-minute mark it had been all Everton and the sight of Swans skipper Ashley Williams twitching nervously as the referee reached for his pocket just about summed it up.
He had just hacked down Anichebe on the edge of the box and the little bit of the ball he got probably spared him an early bath.
If the Blues felt aggrieved, the disappointment didn’t linger.
Baines launched a long diagonal pass towards Fellaini who cutely nudged Williams underneath the ball before using his velcro-like chest to control and tee up Anichebe to ruthlessly blast home.
It was a fair reflection. Swansea hadn’t started. Everton had been superb.
But the Welsh flair merchants are a good team with a formidable home record and the Blues knew they wouldn’t have it all their own way.
Some of the close decisions began to go to Michael Laudrup’s team and with it they started to click.
Phil Jagielka cleared off the line from Pablo Hernandez before Williams missed with a header and Ki shaped a shot narrowly wide from distance.
But just as Everton’s anxiety began to bubble, the soothing second they craved duly arrived.
The man to provide it was the pacy Mirallas, the impressive newcomer pouring through a gap to open his Premier League account.
Fellaini’s pass ran a scalpel through Swansea’s core and Pienaar crossed for the Belgian international, who beat Vorm at the second attempt.
It was Everton’s 13th attempt on target in a half they bossed, yet they were still grateful to Tim Howard after the American thwarted Angel Rangel on the stroke of half-time with a massive save.
By the time Howard had denied Ki with another astonishing stop, Mirallas had already thumped the bar at the other end and the second half was only 10 pulsating minutes old.
Clearly it was too much for Dyer.
Just minutes after talking his way into the book, he went all out self-destruct and flew in on Baines, his horror challenge worthy a straight red on its own.
Everton’s grip tightened.
Fellaini missed a sitter and then watched Leon Britton clear his header off the line. Soon he’d have his goal.
Baines was the familiar provider as the Belgian met his cross to head his third league goal in five games.
More chances came and went as the Blues threatened rack up a rugby score in rugby country.
Three was more than enough to give Everton a win that lifted them to second in the league - their highest position since 2007.