Romelu Lukaku scored his 50th Premier League goal as Everton romped to a comfortable 4-0 victory over woeful Aston Villa at Goodison Park.
The Belgian striker joined Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo in reaching the landmark before his 23rd birthday as both he and England star Ross Barkley scored twice in a superb Everton performance.
Having scored five times for Spain Under-21s during the international break, Gerard Deulofeu was at the heart of Everton’s best play, the former Barcelona midfielder setting up Barkley for Everton’s first before being involved as Lukaku added a second.
Barkley’s second just before half-time all but put the result beyond doubt, and the travelling Villa supporters were shown no signs of an upturn in their side’s fortunes under new manager Remi Garde.
Lukaku doubled his tally from Barkley’s pass as Villa’s miserable afternoon was compounded just before the hour, leaving Everton able to cruise to a comfortable success.
The Premier League’s bottom club Villa are now without a win in 12 games, since their opening-day win at AFC Bournemouth, while Everton are now unbeaten in three and have the top four in their sights.
Villa’s frailties were evident from the outset as they sat deep and gifted possession to their hosts with loose passes, and Everton were allowed to control the early stages of the game.
It seemed only a matter of time before Everton unlocked the Villa defence, and the breakthrough came when a flowing passing move started by Barkley put Deulofeu through for a shot that Brad Guzan parried well, but Barkley was there to poke the ball into an open net from two yards.
The goal helped Everton grow in confidence, and Deulofeu tormented Ciaran Clark down the right before crossing for Arouna Kone to angle a header that forced a brilliant save from Guzan.
But the American goalkeeper could do nothing to stop Everton doubling their lead shortly afterwards, when Deulofeu again burst into the Villa box and Seamus Coleman crossed for Lukaku to head into the far corner of Guzan’s net.
And Lukaku was the catalyst for Everton’s third goal, flicking the ball into the box for Kone to fire in a low shot that Guzan smothered, only for the ball to run loose to Barkley who lashed it home.
Villa emerged from the break looking like a side who had been subjected to a roasting from Garde, but Jordan Veretout could not beat Tim Howard when a stray pass from Ramiro Funes Mori afforded him a chance.
Kieran Richardson almost gave Villa a shred of hope when he broke down the left and cut inside to fire a powerful drive that needed a good save from the diving Howard to keep it out.
But moments later the game was put beyond all doubt when Deulofeu tore through Villa’s midfield and played in Barkley, who squared to Lukaku and the Belgian clipped the ball over Guzan to delight the home support.
Lukaku’s brace means he maintains his record of scoring in every Premier League outing against Villa, who remain rooted to the foot of the table following a 10th defeat from 13 games.