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David Moyes called on Everton to take the next step – and his players duly delivered with an emphatic victory at Swansea.
Frustrated Toffees boss Moyes has watched his men reach FA Cup semi-finals and finals without landing a trophy as well as Champions League qualification once in 10 years.
Yet the Merseysiders took heed of the Scotsman’s pre-match words at the Liberty Stadium to jump into second spot in the Premier League after this classy display, sealed with goals from Victor Anichebe, Kevin Mirallas and Marouane Fellaini.
Anichebe, particularly enhanced his reputation with his second goal in as many games to fill the void left by injured striker Nikica Jelavic.
There was controversy in the build-up, but no doubt over his 21st minute finish.
Fellaini appeared to handle the ball past Alan Tate to set up Anichebe, who finished with aplomb just days after his strike against Newcastle.
The convincing result – which could have been many more had it not been for some poor finishing – allowed the travelling Blues supporters to leave south Wales singing, “We’re gonna win the league”.
Moyes beamed: “It’s great as we don’t hear that very often.
“We could be quite easily mixing with the big boys.
“We’ve not often been in the position. We finished seasons strong and the one season we started strong we finished in a Champions League place. I’m delighted. The result and the performance matched each other and we played really well from the opening minute right to the end.
“We were a bit wasteful in the final third and we needed our keeper to make a few saves but the result was correct.”
Swansea were on the back foot as soon as the opening minute when Anichebe’s close-range header from Leighton Baines’ free-kick was gathered by Michel Vorm at the second attempt.
Moyes’ men began at a lightning pace, as Mirallas was twice denied by Vorm. The home side received a major let-off in the 11th minute when Ashley Williams hacked down Anichebe after Wayne Routledge conceded possession.
Everton cried for a red card, with Williams retreating as the last man, but Manchester official Anthony Taylor deemed centre-back partner Alan Tate was covering.
Swansea briefly threatened as record signing Pablo Hernandez, handed his first start ahead of Nathan Dyer, volleyed wide after John Heitinga half cleared.
But the tide was firmly with the Merseysiders as Anichebe fired a powerful effort from 20 yards straight at Vorm.
The only surprise was it took 21 minutes for the opening goal to come.
Another Baines free-kick from the left-back saw Fellaini chest the ball past Williams before controversially scooping the ball with his forearm beyond Tate to find Anichebe, who smashed the ball in.
The goal brought Swansea to life as Hernandez saw an effort cleared off the line, Michu headed over from six yards and Ki’s 25-yard shot curled inches wide of Howard’s left post. Everton hit back with a killer second strike through Mirallas before half-time.
Fellaini produced a defence- splitting pass inside Ben Davies to let Pienaar square for Mirallas, who nipped in ahead of ball-watching duo Tate and Angel Rangel at the far post.
Vorm touched Mirallas’ first effort on to the bar, but the Belgian beat him to the rebound.
Everton were always the better side, despite Swansea substitute Dyer receiving a red card following two bookable offences.
Fellaini missed two chances before finally diverting Baines’ free-kick past Vorm to seal a convincing win and inflict Swansea’s heaviest home defeat since August 2009.
Swansea manager Michael Laudrup admitted: “Everton deserved the win.”
Everton's supporters may have been getting a little carried away in the late September sunshine when they broke into a rendition of "We're gonna win the league", but it was easy to forgive their optimism. Notoriously slow starters, David Moyes's side are enjoying the view from close to the top of the table after a third Premier League victory of the season, courtesy of goals from Victor Anichebe, Kevin Mirallas and the unplayable Marouane Fellaini.
Having beaten Swansea City home and away last season and come into this game with a record of not having lost to them in their previous 15 meetings, Everton must wish that they could play against the Welsh club every week.
They were superior in every department here and, apart from a brief spell either side of the interval, when Angel Rangel squandered two great chances and Tim Howard produced a couple of fine saves, Everton looked in complete control.
The only disappointment from Moyes's point of view was that Everton failed to turn their dominance into more goals on an afternoon when any hopes Swansea had of salvaging something from the game disappeared when Nathan Dyer was dismissed in the 57th minute. The winger, brought on at half-time, picked up his second booking in less than three minutes for a reckless challenge on the excellent Leighton Baines. From there onwards it was about how many Everton wanted to score.
"It's great because you've not heard that very often at Everton," said Moyes, when asked about the fans singing about winning the title. "I think if we had won in midweek [against Newcastle], which we should have done, then we could have quite easily been mixing it with the big boys today. We still are and still hope to be come the end of the season. We have finished the season strongly in a lot of seasons but I think the one year we got off to a good start, we ended up finishing in the Champions League [positions]. We have to try to do that if we can."
Interestingly, at the start of that season, in 2004-05, Everton also had 10 points from five games. Whether they can sustain it this term remains to be seen but the early signs are promising. The only surprise here was that it took them 22 minutes to score. Everton were so much better than their opponents in the early stages that Michael Laudrup, the Swansea manager, said it would be unfair to complain about Fellaini using his arm in the buildup to Anichebe volleying in the opening goal from close range.
Moyes claimed that Swansea should already have been down to 10 men at that point, after Ashley Williams brought down Anichebe following a loose Wayne Routledge pass that was symptomatic of their sloppy start. Anthony Taylor, however, chose to show only a yellow card, with the referee judging that Alan Tate was in a position where he would have been able to get across.
There was much to admire about the second Everton goal, which started with Phil Neville and Seamus Coleman playing their way out of trouble. Fellaini picked up possession and threaded a superb pass that invited Steven Pienaar to run in behind Ben Davies before crossing for Mirallas. The Belgian's first effort was superbly deflected on to the crossbar by Michel Vorm – the first of two occasions he hit the woodwork – but he headed in the rebound.
Rangel spurned two opportunities to haul Swansea back into the game on the stroke of half-time while Michu and Ki Sung-yueng drew fine saves from Howard shortly after the restart. The game, however, was up for Swansea once Dyer was dismissed. Fellaini and Anichebe should have made it 3-0 before the former atoned for his profligacy by heading a Baines free-kick past Vorm in the 83rd minute.
When Jonathan De Guzman struck the bar in injury time, it summed up Swansea's miserable day. "It's a good wake-up call for everybody," said Laudrup.
MAROUANE FELLAINI often looks as if he should be playing for the LA Lakers rather than Everton as he struts his lanky 6ft 5in frame across the park.
And on the evidence of his part in Everton’s opener at the Liberty Stadium, the giant Belgian appears to have all the necessary hand skill to cut it as an NBA star.
For having chested the ball down in sublime fashion, Fellaini, who gave Swansea’s rearguard a nightmare afternoon, clearly used the forearm – and not his bushy barnet – to set up Victor Anichebe in the 21st minute.
In fairness to the officials, it was not an easy one to call in real time but the video replay left nobody in any doubt.
But if that strike, Everton’s 6,999th in League football, was controversial, there was nothing dodgy about their next two or the way they maintained their superb start to the campaign and moved joint top – if only for a couple of hours.
Their other Belgium international Kevin Mirallas made it 2-0 before the break and then Fellaini’s late header – his third goal this term – sealed a thoroughly deserved victory.
Not many sides come to south Wales these days and tear Swansea apart – indeed, this was their heaviest home defeat in more than three years.
But in truth, Swansea, who had second-half substitute Nathan Dyer sent off in the 57th minute, can count themselves lucky they were not hit for six.
No wonder the Everton fans, who usually see their heroes start the season with a string of poor results, were singing, ‘We’re going to win the league’ at the final whistle.
And though David Moyes may not be getting quite so carried away, he is thrilled to bits with a return of ten points from a possible 15 – their best total at this stage since 2004-05, when they finished fourth.
The Goodison Park boss said: “It’s not often we get to hear that from our fans, so it’s obviously a great feeling.
“We’ve rarely been in this position this early in a season – so I’m delighted and just hope we can still be up there with the big boys at the end of the season.
“We normally finish where most people expect us to. Hopefully we can do even better this time. Today’s result matched the performance. We were excellent.”
Everton began as if they were still feeling aggrieved at the injustices suffered on Monday when they were robbed of two clear goals in a 2-2 draw with Newcastle.
They could have scored three times inside the first three minutes yesterday as home keeper Michel Vorm denied Anichebe, Fellaini and Mirallas.
However, the Dutchman was helpless to prevent Anichebe slamming in his second goal in two outings after that illegal helping hand from Fellaini.
He said: “I tried to head the ball but I don’t know if that’s what happened or if it was handball.”
Shellshocked Swansea were so bad they took 33 minutes before launching any kind of attack.
But just when Michael Laudrup’s troops were dragging themselves into the contest, they were hit by a 43rd-minute killer second.
Steven Pienaar broke down the right and crossed to Mirallas. His initial effort hit the bar but he netted the rebound.
Any possible comeback hopes Swansea had ended when Dyer collected two yellows in 12 crazy minutes – for dissent and a reckless studs-up lunge on Leighton Baines.
Swansea boss Laudrup refused to condemn his winger, just saying: “Everton were better than us throughout and we have to be very disappointed.
“We were too slow and never coped with their greater physical strength.”
The chant from Everton’s travelling fans – that their team is going to win the league – may have been unrealistic, but they swept Swansea aside with a swagger that suggests that they may be ready to mount a serious challenge for a place among English football’s top four.
Goals from Victor Anichebe, Kevin Mirallas and the inimitable Marouane Fellaini gave them an emphatic victory and they might have scored several more.
“The result and performance matched each other,” said David Moyes, their manager. “I thought we played really well from start to finish. We should have scored more with the amount of ball we had and the chances we created and we were wasteful in the final third at times.
“We have not heard that song too often at Everton,” he added. “If we had won in midweek as we should have done, we could have been mixing it with the big boys. That’s where we want to be at the end of the season.”
Of course, Swansea will be quick to highlight that on top of injury and illness, they not only finished this contest with 10 men, following the 57th-minute dismissal of substitute Nathan Dyer, but are still coming to terms with the loss of players such as Scott Sinclair, Joe Allen and last season’s outstanding loanee, Steven Caulker. That said, on this occasion, they would be foolish to look for excuses. Everton not only dominated possession and looked by far the more polished of the two sides, but could have won by a cricket score had it not been for some woeful finishing. Anichebe, who gave Alan Tate and Ashley Williams a torrid afternoon, missed two from close range, as did Fellaini.
Swansea had hardly seen the ball by the time Everton took the lead. A 21st-minute free-kick from Leighton Baines picked out Fellaini at the far post and although there was a suspicion of handball, the Belgian midfielder set up Anichebe, who scored from five yards.
With Swansea giving full debuts to Pablo Hernández and Ki Sung-yueng, there was a disjointed look about a side who had begun the season with seven points from three games. Defeat at Aston Villa eight days ago had checked their initial progress and when Mirallas latched onto Pienaar’s pass, two minutes from half-time, any chance of a win here disappeared.
Fellaini’s header eight minutes from time left Swansea manager Michael Laudrup with plenty to ponder ahead of their trip to Stoke on Saturday.
“I have to say Everton deserved the win, they were better than us,” said Laudrup. On top of that we were disappointing in the first 30 minutes and we gave away far too many free-kicks. I think the first 30 minutes laid the groundwork for the defeat.
“We can learn from this. We were 2-0 down and had a good reaction. I thought that their goalkeeper was man of the match. He made six or seven outstanding saves.”
As far as the Dyer dismissal was concerned, Laudrup said: “The second yellow was a little unlucky, Nathan went to kick the ball, he missed it and in the same movement kicked his opponent. However, it is a yellow card and you can’t say anything about it.”
Moyes was delighted with the contribution of Anichebe in the absence of Nikica Jelavic. “He did OK in midweek and did not get the credit he deserved for his goal. He does not possess a lot of self-confidence but if he gets that, he is a real handful for defenders.”
'We're gonna win the league,' chanted Everton's fans at the Liberty Stadium as David Moyes's men strolled to an emphatic victory.
They jumped into second spot in the Premier League after this performance, which was sealed by the attacking trio of Victor Anichebe, Kevin Mirallas and Marouane Fellaini.
In recent years, Everton have been regarded as 'nearly men' following Wembley defeats and missing out on regular Champions League football.
In fact, not since September 2007 have they been as high as second in the Premier League and Moyes said: 'The result and the performance matched each other.
'We played really well from the opening minute right to the end. I am delighted, but we should have scored more with the amount of opportunities we had.
'We were a bit wasteful in the final third and we needed our goalkeeper to make a few saves. But the result was correct.
'We've not often been in this position. We finish seasons strong and the one season we started strong we finished in a Champions League place. Hopefully we are still mixing it at the end of the season.'
Anichebe enhanced his reputation with his second goal in as many games to fill the void left by injured striker Nikica Jelavic.
There was controversy in the build-up but there was no doubt over his 21st-minute finish.
Fellaini appeared to handle the ball with his forearm past Alan Tate to set up Anichebe, who added to his goal against Newcastle last Monday with a sweet strike.
Mirallas added a second after Fellaini produced a defencesplitting pass inside Ben Davies. Mirallas reacted first ahead of Tate and Angel Rangel to Steven Pienaar's square pass and the new signing's first effort hit the bar but he made no mistake with the rebound.
Things went from bad to worse for Swansea, who had substitute Nathan Dyer sent off following two bookable offences in three minutes.
Mirallas hit the bar for the second time and Fellaini missed two chances before the Belgian midfielder finally diverted Leighton Baines's free-kick past Michel Vorm.
Swansea manager Michael Laudrup said: 'Everton deserved the win. They are a good side and we didn't play well in the first 30 minutes. We need to improve.'
THE sound hasn’t been heard in a long time - Everton fans singing ‘We’re gonna win the League’ with conviction in their hearts and voices.
It was sweet music to manager David Moyes after another hugely impressive victory confirmed his team’s dynamic start to the season.
They won at a canter, and should have scored many more goals than the three from Victor Anichebe, Kevin Mirallas and Marouane Fellaini.
Moyes knew that well enough, but wasn’t complaining afterwards as he said: “It’s nice to hear the optimism among the fans.
“The other time we had a good start in the League we finished fourth and had a Champions League place. We’d like to think we can do that again, that we can mix with the big boys all through the season and be challenging at the end. That’s our aim.
“We should have even more points than we have already because of what happened in the last game against Newcastle (a ball over the line but the goal disallowed), so it’s encouraging.
“I’m delighted with the result and the performance.”
The Everton fans have reason to be singing lustily. This is clearly the club’s strongest squad in the 10-year reign of Moyes, with extra quality and depth.
Anichebe was starting in the place of injured Nikica Jelavic, and had a storming match, playing with power and pace. If he continues in this vein he will trouble every defence, not just the nervous Swansea backline he faced yesterday lunchtime.
Central defender Alan Tate had a particularly torrid time, unable to deal with the physical threat of Anichebe and Fellaini.
It was no surprise when the Everton striking pair combined for the opening goal in the 21st minute, Fellaini controlling a free-kick on his chest and giving Anichebe the chance to volley home. There was a hint of handball from Fellaini, but it hardly mattered and nobody complained.
Fellaini was also involved in the second goal just before the break, a scintillating counter-attack begun close to his own corner flag by the unflappable veteran Phil Neville.
Steven Pienaar supplied a telling cross and Mirallas bundled in the goal after his initial effort had been pushed onto the bar by keeper Michel Vorm.
It sparked a brief flurry from Swansea either side of the interval. Everton keeper Tim Howard had to make a couple of high-class saves to deny Ki Sung-Yueng, who looks a good acquisition.
The destiny of the game was not in doubt, though, and the only question was how many goals Everton would score after Swansea’s half-time substitute Nathan Dyer was sent off in the 57th minute after two yellow cards in three minutes.
The first was for dissent, the second for a bad foul. Dyer had been a fool.
Everton attacked with glee through the open spaces of their 10-man opponents, but contrived to miss chance after chance.
Fellaini volleyed over from three yards and had a header cleared off the line. Anichebe steered wide from close range and had a ferocious shot well saved.
Manager Moyes was less than pleased with the wastefulness, a picture of temporary disgust on the touchline. He didn’t bother to celebrate when Fellaini finally scored the third goal with a header from a Leighton Baines free-kick.
For Swansea it was their heaviest home League defeat for five years, and they were denied even the consolation of a goal in stoppage time when a fine free-kick from Jonathan De Guzman rattled back off the bar.
Home manager Michael Laudrup was phlegmatic afterwards. That’s his way; never too jubilant in victory or full of despair in defeat.
“We played too slowly, especially in the first half hour,” he said, “and this was a reminder that if we do that we will lose matches. Days like this do come along, and we have to learn the lessons from it.’’
“Everton were better than us, and we have to accept that.”
On this evidence, Laudrup won’t be the only manager saying that after a match against the Toffees this season.
Everton felt cheated five days ago after having two goals disallowed in the draw with Newcastle, but David Moyes’ men ensured there was no dispute about the scoreline here with a comprehensive victory.
The Toffees produced a masterful display right from the off and were duly rewarded with strikes from Victor Anichebe, Kevin Mirallas and Marouane Fellaini.
During his 10-year tenure in charge of the Blues, Moyes has often cut a frustrated figure as FA Cup and Champions’ League opportunities have passed him by. Yet this season feels different. Everton have a squad that has more strength in depth and they showed that they listen to the manager, whose pre-match rallying cry was to take the next step. They did in style, jumping into second spot in the table.
The convincing result – which could have been by much more had it not been for some poor second-half finishing – allowed the travelling Blues supporters to leave south Wales singing, “We’re gonna win the league”, which left Moyes in jubilant mood. He beamed afterwards: “It’s great because we don’t hear that very often. We could be quite easily mixing with the big boys. We’ve not often been in the position. We finished seasons strong and the one season we started strong we finished in a Champions’ League place.
“I’m delighted. The result and the performance matched each other and we played really well from the opening minute right to the end. We should have scored more with the amount of ball and the opportunities we had.
“We were a bit wasteful in the final third and we needed our goalkeeper to make a few saves but the result was correct. Hopefully we are still mixing it at the end of the season.”
Swansea were on the back foot as soon as the opening minute when Anichebe’s close-range header from Leighton Baines’s free-kick was gathered by Michel Vorm at the second attempt. Moyes’s men played at a lightning pace as Mirallas was twice denied by Vorm.
Swansea had a major let-off in the 11th minute when Ashley Williams hacked down Anichebe after Wayne Routledge conceded possession. Everton cried for a red card with Williams retreating as the last man, but Manchester official Anthony Taylor deemed his centre-back partner, Alan Tate, was covering.
Swansea briefly threatened as club-record signing, Pablo Hernandez, handed his first start ahead of Nathan Dyer, volleyed wide after John Heitinga half-cleared. But the tide was firmly with the Merseysiders as Anichebe fired a powerful 20-yard effort straight at Vorm.
The only surprise was it took 21 minutes for the opening goal to come. Another Baines free-kick from the left saw Fellaini chest the ball past Williams before controversially scooping it with his forearm beyond Tate to find Anichebe, who smashed it into the bottom corner.
It brought Swansea to life as a Hernandez effort was cleared off the line, Michu headed over from six yards and Ki’s 25-yard shot curled inches wide. But Everton hit back with a killer second from Mirallas. Fellaini’s pass inside Ben Davies allowed Steven Pienaar to square for Mirallas, who got ahead of Tate and Angel Rangel at the far post. Vorm managed to touch Mirallas’s first effort on to the bar, but the Belgian was first to the rebound.
Swansea were almost handed a lifeline before the break as Rangel was denied by Tim Howard. Then the Everton keeper came to the rescue in the second half to stop Michu from point-blank range. But Everton were the better side even before Swansea substitute Nathan Dyer was sent off for two yellow cards.
Mirallas hit the bar for a second time and Fellaini missed two chances before finally diverting Baines’s free-kick past Vorm to inflict Swansea’s heaviest home defeat since the 3-0 loss to Middlesbrough in August 2009. The Swansea manager Michael Laudrup admitted: “Everton deserved the win.”