Everton moved into the top half of the Premier League with a straightforward 3-1 win against rock-bottom Aston Villa at Villa Park, where disgruntled home fans staged a 74th-minute walkout.
Ramiro Funes Mori gave Everton an early lead, rising unmarked to head in a Kevin Mirallas corner. Villa responded positively, but the visitors scored a second on the half-hour mark, Aaron Lennon finishing off a rapid counter-attack involving Ross Barkley and Mirallas.
Romelu Lukaku made it 3-0 after 60 minutes, tapping in his 17th Premier League goal of the season, Funes Mori providing the assist.
Rudy Gestede headed in a cross by fellow substitute Jordan Veretout as Villa pulled one back shortly after a section of supporters left the ground in protest against how the club is being run, but Remi Garde’s side could not muster a significant comeback and remain cut adrift at the bottom of the table.
Everton, meanwhile, have only lost one Premier League away game all season and bounced back from a 1-0 home defeat against West Brom last time out in the league.
Garde recalled goalkeeper Brad Guzan for his first Premier League start in two months in one of four changes from Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Stoke City, while Mirallas replaced the ill Tom Cleverley in the Everton side.
Guzan was picking the ball out of his net within five minutes of his return to the Villa team when Funes Mori got up to head in a Mirallas corner, under zero pressure, for his fourth goal of the season in all competitions.
Ciaran Clark and Idrissa Gueye were booked by referee Roger East before Joel Robles saved a deflected clearance from Funes Mori and a well-struck shot by Ashley Westwood.
Micah Richards sent a speculative acrobatic effort just off target before Leandro Bacuna – Villa’s third player to be shown a yellow card in the first half – tested Joel with a curling strike.
Despite Villa’s promising spell, Everton doubled their lead when Barkley freed Mirallas on the break, his low cross slotted home by Lennon.
Bryan Oviedo should have added a third shortly afterwards, but his shot was cleared off the line after Guzan spilled a Mirallas effort, Joleon Lescott coming to his goalkeeper’s rescue.
Everton’s first game since new investor Farhad Moshiri’s arrival was going smoothly and more goals always looked likely, Guzan saving well from Lukaku after 58 minutes.
Guzan, though, could not keep the striker at bay moments later, Lukaku tucking in a low cross from Funes Mori to celebrate his sixth goal in five Premier League appearances against Villa.
With 16 minutes to go, Villa some supporters had seen enough and voted with their feet following a period of chanting aimed at chief executive Tom Fox and owner Randy Lerner.
Everton beat Villa 4-0 at Goodison Park in the reverse fixture, but there was to be no repeat as the hosts grabbed a goal back with 11 minutes to go, Gestede meeting a Veretout cross.