Everton Under-21s returned to winning ways with an emphatic 4-1 away victory over Leicester City.
Goals from Francis Okoronwko, Halid Djankpata, Stanley Mills and Liam Higgins secured a comfortable night for Paul Tait’s side at the Foxes' training ground.
Despite there being just three games remaining in the Premier League 2 season, this was the first time these two sides had met this campaign.
A lively opening to the match helped set the tone, with Wanya Marcal-Madivadua coming close for Leicester within the first minute, curling a shot wide from distance.
Everton responded and opened the scoring inside four minutes through Francis Okoronkwo. Jenson Metcalfe picked out the centre-forward with an excellent long-ball, and he showed great composure to control before slotting past Chituru Odunze.
Moments later, the Leicester defence was breached again, but Katia Kouyate was unable to hit the target following excellent play by Djankpata.
Tait’s side, visibly boosted in confidence by the early opener, doubled their advantage on the 20-minute mark. Mills picked out Djankpata in the middle and the Blues' number 10 ruthlessly volleyed home past the helpless Odunze.
Mills was starting to have a huge influence on the contest and eight minutes later got himself on the scoresheet. A flowing move from Everton saw Djankpata unmarked in front of goal, and although his header was saved, Mills followed up to make it 3-0.
The 19-year old, who was on the bench for the men's senior team against Fulham, showcased his quality throughout the first-half and began the second in similar vein, winning a flurry of corners from his ingenuity and balance.
Despite the strong start to the second period, the hosts got themselves on the scoresheet via the penalty spot. Kouyate tripped Brandon Cover inside the box, and Tawanda Maswanhise made no mistake from 12 yards.
Leicester suddenly had the momentum and a stunning block from Reece Welch prevented Kian Pennant from reducing the deficit further.
The Blues weathered the storm, though, and looked to add more goals. Sean McAllister, wearing the captain's armband, had two opportunities in quick succession but saw both of his shots blocked.
He then turned provider, setting up Mills following a quick attack. Mills dinked the ball over the goalkeeper but narrowly over the crossbar.
Okoronkwo then had a great chance to get his second of the night, but Odunze managed to save brilliantly following Isaac Price’s teasing delivery.
Brilliant play by Price was what provided Everton’s fourth goal after 78 minutes. He danced through several Leicester bodies, and played a neat ball to Okoronkwo. The striker then found Liam Higgins, and his low effort squirmed underneath Odunze.
Everton Under-18s top goalscorer Martin Sherif had a chance to add a fifth late on, but his drive inside the penalty area whistled over the crossbar.
Liam Higgins then rattled the woodwork for Everton just before full-time, highlighting Everton’s determination to add more goals.
This impressive victory is the Under-21s' final away game of the season, with back-to-back home games against Arsenal and Leicester set to come.
By Daniel Ghorbal