Everton v Swansea City
Steven Naismith’s second-half cameo helped Everton see off Swansea and book a place in the FA Cup quarter-finals for the third season in succession.
After being introduced from the bench with half an hour remaining, the Scot scored one and set up another to secure a 3-1 victory and move the Blues within one game of another Wembley appearance.
Everton had taken an early lead through Lacina Traore’s debut goal after just four minutes, but they were pegged back when Jonathan de Guzman headed Swansea level after a quarter of an hour.
It remained level up to 65 minutes when Naismith latched onto a defensive mistake and slotted the Blues ahead.
The former Rangers man was brought down inside the area shortly afterwards, paving the way for Leighton Baines to score from the spot and seal Everton’s place in the last eight of the competition.
Before kick-off, there was a minute’s silence in remembrance of the late Sir Tom Finney, who passed away on Friday evening.
Everton boss Roberto Martinez had hinted at his pre-match press conference that Traore would be handed his first start after labelling the striker’s performances in training as ‘sharp’.
The Ivorian, on loan from AS Monaco, was duly named in the team and wasted no time in proving his manager correct by back-heeling his side ahead following the Blues’ first attack of the game.
Sylvain Distin, who had advanced up-field for a free-kick, foraged away in a packed penalty area, and when the ball found its way to Traore five yards out, he instinctively flicked it into the Park End net, via a slight deflection.
The goal gave Everton an early boost and Ross Barkley, one of three changes to Martinez's team, threatened to double the lead with a shot from the edge of the box that was narrowly dragged wide.
The Blues looked cosy – but they were pegged back by a fluent Swansea move that culminated in De Guzman heading the Welsh club level with 15 minutes on the clock.
Full-back Neil Taylor swung over an inviting cross from the left and the midfielder, who got a run on the Blues' defence, powered the ball past Joel Robles from six yards out. It was the visitors’ first goal at Goodison in 31 years.
The hosts were unperturbed by the setback and the advantage was almost restored when Pienaar strode onto Baines’ cross and side-footed a first-time shot against the post from the edge of the box.
And from the rebound, Traore was denied his second goal of the afternoon when keeper Gerhard Tremmel clawed away the giant striker’s header.
A few loose passes in midfield from Everton brought about a bit of anxiety amongst the Goodison faithful in the lead up to half-time, though it was the Blues who continued to carve out the better of the opportunities.
Barkley fizzed an effort just wide and Tremmel clutched on to Kevin Mirallas’ free-kick - but it remained all-square at the interval.
A big second-half lay ahead.
Naismith – a scorer of four goals in his previous five outings – replaced goalscorer Traore, whose debut reached its conclusion at the hour mark.
It was another tactical masterstroke by Martinez as the substitute put Everton back ahead just four minutes after his introduction.
The Scot was alert to Taylor’s weak back-pass, stealing in to coolly slide past Tremmel from a narrowing angle.
In Everton’s next attack, Mirallas should well have put the tie to bed but he somehow contrived to balloon the ball into the upper tier of the Gwladys Street following excellent play from Coleman down the right.
It wasn’t to prove a costly miss, however, as the Blues did make it three on 73 minutes, courtesy of Baines’ penalty.
Naismith again was involved as he was hacked down inside the area by Jazz Richards. Baines simply does not miss from 12 yards and he comfortably converted, sending Tremmel the wrong way.
The Toffees were forced to play out the final few minutes with 10 men after Naismith was withdrawn due to concussion after all three substitutions had been made.
But by that point Everton’s place in the quarter-finals had already been cemented.