Arouna Kone’s hat-trick helped Everton survive a Sunderland fightback to triumph 6-2 in the Premier League on Sunday.
Goodison Park held a minute’s applause for former manager Howard Kendall in the fourth minute and Gerard Deulofeu’s opener kept the home fans in fine voice early on.
Kone fired home a second but Jermain Defoe’s excellent strike just before the break offered Sunderland a much-needed lifeline.
Steven Fletcher’s header restored parity just five minutes after the restart but an own goal from Sebastian Coates put Everton back in front, and the hosts promptly seized control of the match.
Romelu Lukaku scored his fourth goal in seven games against the Black Cats and Kone’s second made it five for the home side just two minutes later, before sealing his hat-trick with a header following a brilliant Lukaku cross.
A shellshocked Sunderland failed to recover and remain second from bottom of the league, while Roberto Martinez’s side climb to eighth, just a point behind Liverpool.
Sunderland were inches from snatching an unlikely lead inside four minutes as Patrick van Aanholt combined with Fletcher before rattling the inside of the post, before Adam Johnson scuffed an effort onto the opposite upright after Tim Howard saved from Defoe.
But Everton punished some slack Sunderland defending to take the lead four minutes later. Kone looped the ball over Billy Jones to Deulofeu, who was allowed time to cut inside on his left and slot beneath Costel Pantilimon.
Kone doubled their lead just past the half-hour mark. A neat one-two with Lukaku on the edge of the area allowed the Ivorian to work the ball onto his left foot and fire high past Pantilimon.
Everton were cruising to half-time but Defoe handed Sunderland a lifeline in stoppage time, flicking the ball over Gareth Barry’s sliding challenge before rifling a half-volley across goal and into the far corner from the edge of the area.
And Sunderland were level barely five minutes into the second half. Van Aanholt was given time to aim a cross from the left towards the far post and Fletcher climbed highest to head down and past Howard.
Deulofeu was booked for a dreadful dive as Everton sought a third, but they did not have long to wait. The Spaniard’s cross on 55 minutes evaded Wes Brown and Coates, beating Lukaku to the ball, only succeeded in prodding into his own net from close range.
Sunderland pushed up in search of a response but they were promptly hit by a sucker-punch as Everton restored their two-goal lead. Deulofeu bent a fine pass beyond Brown and Lukaku, racing clear of Coates, rounded Pantilimon before slotting home.
And Martinez’s men crushed the visitors’ hopes of another comeback two minutes later, as James McCarthy’s fine reverse pass sent Kone through to place a shot high into the far corner.
Kone sealed his hat-trick 14 minutes from time – and in doing so doubled his career tally for the Toffees – heading home when unmarked just five yards out after Lukaku’s sublime cross with the outside of his left foot.
Sam Allardyce’s side looked for a late consolation but Everton, having scored six in a league game for the first time since thrashing Sunderland 7-1 in 2007, finished in confident mood.
Key Opta stats:
– There were more goals scored in this fixture (eight) than the last five top-tier clashes between Everton and Sunderland combined (seven).
-Black Cats’ boss Sam Allardyce has lost each of his last seven Premier League games against Everton.
-Sunderland have failed to keep a clean sheet in 11 of their last 12 Premier League matches.
-Arouna Kone became the fifth Ivorian to net a Premier League hat-trick (Dindane, Drogba, Kalou, Yaya Toure); more than any other African nation.
-Jermain Defoe has scored in five of his last eight Premier League appearances at Goodison Park against Everton. Indeed, Defoe has bagged more away goals at Goodison Park than at any other PL ground (eight).
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