A goal in either half secured Everton an impressive 2-1 away win over Aston Villa and a place in the last 16 of the Carabao Cup.
James Garner’s well-taken effort on the quarter-hour mark set the Blues on their way to back-to-back victories on the road after a 3-1 victory over Brentford last time out.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin deservedly doubled Everton’s lead five minutes into the second period, meaning Boubacar Kamara’s heavily-deflected late strike was not enough to deny Sean Dyche triumph in his 500th game as a manager.
The win sets up a Carabao Cup fourth-round clash with Burnley at Goodison Park during the week commencing Monday 30 October.
Jack Harrison was handed his Everton debut at Villa Park, as boss Dyche made five changes from the side that dispatched Brentford four days previously.
Harrison began on the right flank in a 5-2-3 formation having overcome a hip problem that he arrived with after signing on a season-long from Leeds United over the summer, while Nathan Patterson, Michael Keane, Arnaut Danjuma and Dominic Calvert-Lewin were all recalled to the starting line-up.
In-form Villa, who recorded an impressive 1-0 win at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge over the weekend, began positively and Youri Tielemans registered the first effort of the game but the Belgian’s shot - his second after seeing his initial strike blocked following a short corner routine - looped on to the roof of Jordan Pickford’s net.
It didn’t take long for the Blues to respond.
Everton showed their intentions to press aggressively from the front from the outset and that paid dividends on 15 minutes.
Amadou Onana pinched possession on the edge of Aston Villa’s penalty area before the ball made its way back to the Belgian via improvised touches from Calvert-Lewin and Harrison. Onana then produced a superb reverse pass to release Garner, who steadied himself before confidently drilling a left-footed shot past former Everton goalkeeper Robin Olsen in front of the 4,436 travelling Evertonians that packed out the stadium’s North Stand.
The Toffees twice came close to extending their lead in a hectic two-minute spell five minutes before the interval.
First, a mix up between Ezri Konsa and Nicolo Zaniolo on the byline saw the ball spurt across the face of the six-yard box and when captain John McGinn connected in a panic, it required Olsen to spring to his right to claw the ball behind for a corner to prevent an own goal.
If that nearly moment came about by fortune, the next was solely down to design.
Harrison picked up possession on the right byline and skipped past McGinn with an excellent burst of acceleration before releasing Calvert-Lewin with a slide-rule pass but, again, Olsen was on hand to save with his feet and the Blues’ number nine could only hit the side netting on the rebound.
Calvert-Lewin wouldn’t have to wait long to get on the scoresheet after the teams reemerged for the second half though, pouncing on a loose pass in the middle of the pitch before bursting clear of Konsa and finishing with aplomb past Olsen.
Pickford was called into action for the first time of the contest three minutes later, as Villa worked the ball quickly from left to right but Diaby’s goal-bound effort was well kept out by the right foot of England’s first-choice keeper.
Everton retained control as the half wore on but a goal from nothing with seven minutes remaining gave the hosts a shot of belief.
An in-swinging corner was headed away by substitute Beto in the first instance, but only as far as Kamara, whose low drive from the edge of the penalty area looked tame but a wicked deflection completely wrong-footed Pickford to set up a nervy ending.
Diaby tested Pickford as the clock ticked over into stoppage time at the end of a clever free-kick routine but the Blues held on to record their place in the hat for the next round of the competition.
Marking 5️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ games as a manager with a win.— Everton (@Everton) September 27, 2023
Congrats, gaffer. 👏 pic.twitter.com/gC6Wvx7kPQ
Toffees Sweet On Travels
The task facing Everton ahead of the weekend just gone was, on paper, a pretty daunting one.
Brentford had lost only two of their previous 22 home games; Aston Villa had won 10 games on the bounce on home soil.
The Blues have come away with deserved victories in both matches in the space of a five-day spell that Sean Dyche - and every Evertonian - will hope ignites the campaign.
Next up is the challenge of converting that impressive away form at Goodison Park when Luton Town head to L4 on Saturday (3pm BST).
Flexibility In Formation
Dyche opted to tweak his team's shape heading into this Carabao Cup tie, making five changes to the side that started at Brentford and deploying his players in a 5-2-3 formation.
It worked impressively here, with a midfield partnership of Amadou Onana and James Garner particularly eye-catching.
As well as scoring his first-ever goal for Everton on his 15th start since joining from Manchester United last summer, Garner won more duels than any player on the pitch (11); while Onana registered an assist for Garner's opener, completed the most accurate passes (28) and won back possession (11) more than anyone for the Blues.
Harrison A Livewire
Jack Harrison has had to be patient in his bid to overcome a hip injury after joining the Club on loan over the summer - but his first appearance was an encouraging one.
The 26-year-old winger's acceleration, work ethic and quality on the ball - indeed, he was unfortunate to not have had an assist to his name after a sublime pass for Calvert-Lewin in the first half - was clear for all to see.
Harrison was replaced for Dwight McNeil, who also continues his bid to reach peak fitness following an ankle injury in pre-season, on 65 minutes.
DCL Up For The Cup
He loves the League Cup, Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
His goal on the night was his 11th on his 11th appearance in the competition.
It was another welcome boost and just reward for Everton's number 9, who followed up an excellent substitute appearance at Brentford last time out with another solid performance here.