Everton produced their most thrilling and complete performance of Marco Silva's first campaign in charge to demolish Manchester United at a cock-a-hoop Goodison Park.
Richarlison, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Lucas Digne and Theo Walcott were all on the scoresheet as Everton sealed their biggest victory over United since Howard Kendall's title winners swept aside Ron Atkinson's Red Devils 5-0 in October 1984.
Everton's 4-0 success – earned courtesy of two goals in each half and which represents a fourth home clean sheet on the spin – sees Silva's team leap three places to seventh in the Premier League table.
Everton hit the front on 13 minutes when Richarlison leapt to volley high into David De Gea’s goal after left-back Digne’s looping throw from the left had been flicked on by Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
The impact of Richarlison's strike was two-fold: When the South American’s picturesque effort flew beyond 'keeper De Gea it gave Everton the advantage but also threw down a challenge for Sigurdsson.
Now one Premier League goal behind Richarlison in the pair’s chase for Everton’s top scoring honours, how the Icelander took his cue.
Idrissa Gana Gueye did the leg work, surging from midfield and clipping a pass left for Sigurdsson.
United midfielder Nemanja Matic retreated, unwisely inviting Sigurdsson to step forward a stride or two.
The Icelander did just that before taking aim with a hit from 25 yards which kicked off the turf and left De Gea flailing as the ball whistled inside the Spaniard’s right post.
The noise which rained down from the stands after both goals was something to behold. Third biggest cheer of the opening half? That came three minutes before the break when Seamus Coleman sized up a ball on the right he had no right to win.
Romelu Lukaku was far closer and outright favourite to claim possession. Coleman went for it anyway. When he nailed a tackle which cleanly swept the ball away from the United striker Goodison emitted the type of guttural roar which is quite unique to the old place.
To think, Everton actually started this by having to see off some danger. Michael Keane blocked from Diogo Dalot inside five minutes – Keane’s fellow centre-half Kurt Zouma already in action by this stage to snuff out a forward run from Lukaku.
Everton quickly wrested the ascendancy from their visitors, however, tangible evidence of the hosts’ growing superiority coming in the form of three corners won in quick succession around the 10-minute mark.
Sigurdsson served up the first two from the right, his initial delivery needing all of Dalot’s strength to force Zouma out of the equation.
When Digne delivered corner number three it was only partially cleared, enabling the exceptional Gana to recycle play and hang in a right-wing cross.
Richarlison gathered and forced De Gea into a save down to his right – the ball hurtling back to the forward but before he could get his feet untangled, resulting in the rebound being directed off target.
Richarlison’s breakthrough could have been added to soon after when Paul Pogba threw himself in the line of a tremendous blast from Digne.
It was two, however, when Sigurdsson hit his 13th of the season. Like Richarlison before him, there was nothing lucky about the way the midfielder reached his baker’s dozen.
United fleetingly had hopes of an equaliser prior to Sigurdsson’s intervention.
Marcus Rashford streaked onto Pogba’s 60 yarder from deep but shot over with the outside of his right boot.
Rashford opted to go with his instep at a subsequent free-kick from distance but his effort met with precisely the same outcome.
United were struggling to recover their senses as the interval approached. Dalot was sleeping when De Gea fed the ball out to the right-back.
Richarlison, by contrast, was wide awake, barrelling through the Portuguese and propelling Everton onto the front foot.
Indeed, it was Richarlison who had the eventual attempt at goal, fielded by De Gea at his near post.
Richarlison was forced to surrender to a knock he’d sustained before half-time soon after the interval – Walcott on in the earlier scorer’s place.
United’s changes ahead of the second half were more likely tactical, Fred and Phil Jones off, Scott McTominay and Ashley Young on.
Young was immediately the victim of a sublime piece of footwork from Bernard, bamboozled by the Brazilian’s touch to the delight of the locals.
United could not escape their own half. Gana crunched a pass forward for Sigurdsson who traded passes with Calvert-Lewin before having his shot deflected behind.
There was no getting off the hook for the away team when Sigurdsson delivered the resultant corner.
De Gea applied a clean enough punch to the ball but watched it land with Digne. He swung his foot through it first-time, sending a shot through a forest of bodies and inside the keeper’s near post.
Sigurdsson very nearly scored direct from his next corner, the Everton player denied only by De Gea reacting sharply to toe the ball off the line at his near post.
If De Gea felt like he was fighting a lone battle in trying to stem a royal blue tide, his suspicion would have hardened on 64 minutes.
Sigurdsson brought the ball under his spell tight to the left touchline. Peering out form between the United bodies surrounding him, he spied Walcott scarpering through the middle.
Sigurdsson’s pass was on the money, enabling Walcott to progress without breaking stride.
His first touch knocked the ball five yards or so. He was back on it in a flash, Walcott opening up his body and finishing across the De Gea for his first goal since December.
Anthony Martial’s radar was off as United sought something by way of consolation. The winger was more accurate in the closing minutes but found Pickford defiant, plunging to his right to preserve that precious clean sheet. Everton last achieve four straight Goodison shutouts in April 2015.
Rashford, meantime, did not trouble Pickford when he had a go from 25 yards.
The oles rang round Goodison as Gana weaved this way and that in a congested centre circle, the Senegalese conjuring thoughts of a Spanish matador as he evaded all-comers before springing Everton on the attack.
He went off not long after, treated to a cacophonous ovation and replaced by James McCarthy, greeted even more noisily on his return after 16 months on the sidelines.
De Gea pouched a volleyed left-footed effort from the marauding Coleman late in the game – not an episode anyone arriving at Goodison for this would have expected to witness. It was that kind of day.
Everton’s Not-So-Secret Weapons
There was an element of déjà vu about Everton’s opening goal here.
Not in the fashion Richarlison contorted his body to acrobatically rifle a volley into the roof of the net, David De Gea not twitching before the ball lodged underneath his crossbar.
No, the sense we’d been here before came in the goal’s source: A Lucas Digne throw hurled in from the left.
When the Frenchman launched in the ball against Arsenal a fortnight ago, he triggered all manner of indecision in the visitors’ defence.
Phil Jagielka combined with Dominic Calvert-Lewin in that instance to score the only goal of the game.
Calvert-Lewin was in the thick of this one, too, the striker darting to the front post while Digne closed his ears to the United supporters at his back and unleashed his missile.
Richarlison read the action superbly, stationing himself between defenders and proving right his manager who claimed this week the Brazilian boasts an innate scoring instinct.
Still, the 21-year-old had a fair bit to do. He sprung athletically and planted his left foot through the ball as it hung in mid-air, leaving De Gea – a goalkeeper whose reflexes are second to none – absolutely helpless.
There’s probably not many in the Premier League unaware of Gyfli Sigurdsson’s capacity to hurt teams with his dead-eyed striking from distance.
Still, United didn’t seem overly concerned when the midfielder advanced on their goal 15 minutes after Richarlison’s opener.
The source of arguably Everton’s most dazzling strike this term when he deposited a 25-yard effort into the top-left corner at Leicester City back in October, Sigurdsson went low this time.
Same side, though, the ball rearing spitefully off the ground in front of De Gea and travelling over the ‘keeper’s outstretched arms.
Plus ca Change
Only three of Everton’s starters today were in the Blues’ line-up when Manchester United last visited Goodison Park, on the first day of 2018.
Jordan Pickford and Michael Keane are mainstays of Marco Silva’s side. Indeed, both players stamped their mark on this contest exactly as you might expect.
Goalkeeper Pickford was outside his box sweeping up danger inside 10 minutes, Keane having already climbed above Romelu Lukaku to win a heavyweight aerial contest.
For the other survivor from last season’s running of this fixture, Morgan Schneiderlin, this represented only a seventh start of the campaign – and third in seven months.
He did start last month’s Merseyside derby, though, when Schneiderlin performed admirably in a high-octane draw.
And he proved himself the man for a big occasion again on Sunday, assured in possession and intelligently standing sentry in front of Everton’s back four.
There was a spicy early tackle on Lukaku which fired up an already broiling Goodison Park.
For the most part, though, Schneiderlin was understated, pinching the ball off opponents’ toes and staying goalside of United’s most creative midfielder in Paul Pogba.
The 29-year-old’s name won’t be one of those up in lights on Monday’s back pages. He deserves his mention, though, for what was a flawless contribution next to the outstanding Idrissa Gana Gueye.