Gerard Deulofeu produced a wonderful individual performance as Everton twice came from behind to beat League One side Barnsley 5-3 after extra time on Wednesday and avoid a League Cup upset.
With John Stones’ reported transfer request dominating the headlines and sections of the visiting fans at Oakwell displaying banners calling for chairman Bill Kenwright to sell up, Everton were in need of a strong second-round showing to send the supporters home happy.
Instead, the Premier League side fell behind in the 22nd minute courtesy of a goal from Barnsley striker Sam Winnall following a mistake from Stones on his return to his former club.
Six minutes later Marley Watkins capitalised on a Joel Robles error to make it 2-0, but the introduction of Deulofeu, who set up three of Everton’s goals, proved telling.
Kevin Mirallas and Steven Naismith netted to levelled matters at 2-2, only for midfielder Daniel Crowley to restore Barnsley’s advantage.
But a 78th-minute Romelu Lukaku strike forced extra time and a third-round tie at Reading was finally secured six minutes into extra time when Marc Roberts turned a perfectly placed Deulofeu cross into his own net. Lukaku then rounded off a slick counter attack to add a fifth.
The hosts were grateful to goalkeeper Adam Davies early on as he produced a double save that saw him keep out a curling Mirallas effort and then deny Aiden McGeady on the rebound.
Everton were punished for not taking those opportunities by Winnall, who turned inside the area and arrowed a shot into the bottom-left corner.
Watkins bundled home to double the visitors’ misery after Robles had fumbled Winnall’s nod back from a Roberts cross.
Deulofeu and Ross Barkley were thrown on following the interval and Everton quickly got themselves back into the game following the restart thanks to a stunning 51st-minute finish from Mirallas.
Mirallas powered an acrobatic effort beyond Davies after Barnsley had been unable to deal with the far-post ball from Bryan Oviedo.
Deulofeu was thwarted by Davies, but the former Barcelona winger crafted a leveller in the 59th minute as his fine right-wing delivery was met by Naismith, whose powerful near-post header flew past the Barnsley goalkeeper.
Parity lasted just 62 seconds, though, Crowley restoring Barnsley’s advantage with an excellent finish on the half-volley following superb work down the right from Reece Wabara, who was then called into action at the other end to clear a deflected Deulofeu cross off the line.
However, Barnsley paid the price for more poor defending 12 minutes from time, with Deulofeu’s teasing delivery scuffed home from point-blank range by Lukaku after the ex-Chelsea forward had a stole a march on the Barnsley backline.
Barkley, Naismith, Mirallas and Deulofeu all went close to wrapping up the win in normal time before Roberts’ moment of misfortune. And, after Conor Hourihane hit the crossbar for Barnsley, Lukaku made absolutely sure of progression in the in the 115th minute by sliding home his second.