Everton v QPR
Nikica Jelavic celebrated his 50th Everton start with a brace as the Blues thrashed Queens Park Rangers 4-0 to cruise into the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Rangers are currently riding high at the top end of the Championship – but they proved no match for the Toffees as Roberto Martinez negotiated the first hurdle in his attempt to lift the trophy for the second successive year.
Jelavic’s double – a fine 25-yard effort and a close-range tap-in either side of half-time – came about after Ross Barkley had opened the scoring with a drive from the edge of the area in the 34th minute.
Jelavic missed the chance to net himself a hat-trick when he chipped a penalty against the crossbar midway through the second half.
Seamus Coleman wrapped up the demolition with his fifth goal in nine games 15 minutes before the end.
It proved to be a cakewalk in the end for Everton, so much so that goalkeeper Joel Robles did not have an entire save to make in the entire 90 minutes.
Martinez saw the tie as an opportunity to freshen up his team with the game being Everton’s fifth in the space of 14 days.
There were five alterations from the line-up at Stoke on New Year’s Day – but in no way did it impact on the Blues’ ability to fluently stroke the ball around the Goodison Park surface.
Gary O’Neill’s second-minute half-volley, which arrowed narrowly wide of the upright, and an inviting low cross from full-back Danny Simpson midway through the first half were the only occasions in the which the Everton defence were troubled in the contest. That was as good as it got for the visitors.
The recalled Jelavic had two early chances but QPR goalkeeper Julio Cesar saved well at his near post, with the Croatian heading the resulting corner over the bar.
The Brazilian then made routine saves to keep out long-range efforts from Barkley and Gareth Barry before twice denying Coleman, who continued to canter past opposite number Benoit Assou-Ekotto with unbelievable ease every time he ventured forward.
Captain Leon Osman somehow managed to loft an attempt over the bar from inside the six-yard box on the half-hour before Cesar was finally beaten in the 34th minute.
Barkley’s powerfully-struck effort from just outside the outside the area found the bottom corner of the Park End goal to give Everton a completely deserved advantage.
Ten minutes later it was 2-0 as Jelavic grabbed his maiden goal of the campaign with an equally as impressive effort from distance.
In what was his first start in over three months, the former Rangers man gave a reminder of his capabilities with a crisp drive, this time from a few yards further out, which again left Cesar powerless.
It was more of the same after the break as Everton refused to relent and continued to pour forward at will.
Within the first quarter of an hour of the second period, Cesar’s goal had been peppered with strikes from Barkley, Jelavic, Osman and then Coleman, whose precise curling shot was destined for the far corner, only for the Samba stopper to excellently turn the ball behind at full stretch.
Former Blue Andy Johnson was given a standing ovation when he was introduced from the bench but he was devoid of any sort of service in his 32-minute outing at his old hunting ground.
Jelavic duly netted his second of the afternoon on 68 minutes, poaching a goal in typical predatory fashion following Bryan Oviedo’s cross from the left.
The striker then had the chance to claim the match ball when Oviedo was tripped inside the box by Cesar. Referee Howard Webb had no doubt in pointing to the spot.
But Jelavic wasted the opportunity as his cheeky chipped ‘Panenka’ attempt struck the crossbar.
Three did become four a couple of minutes later, however, as Coleman continued his hot-streak in front of goal with yet another strike.
The Republic of Ireland man was again on the end of an attack, smashing home from 12 yards to put the seal on yet another convincing home display from the Blues.
All associated with Everton now eagerly anticipate the fourth round draw.