Gerard Deulofeu stole the show as Everton cruised into the League Cup semi-finals courtesy of a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.
The Spaniard netted a delightful opener before assisting Romelu Lukaku’s header on Tuesday as Roberto Martinez’s men booked their spot in the last four.
Martinez showed his respect for a team sitting second in the Championship by making just three changes to the XI that drew 3-3 at AFC Bournemouth on Saturday.
His decision paid dividends during the early stages, with stunning goals from Deulofeu and Lukaku putting the visitors 2-0 ahead inside 28 minutes.
Middlesbrough pressed forward menacingly in the second period as Stewart Downing and Cristhian Stuani spurned good opportunities, but Everton were able to keep their opponents at bay and progress with a minimum of fuss.
And the Premier League side’s perfect night was capped by Leighton Baines coming off the bench for his first appearance of the campaign following an ankle injury.
Everton began brightly and almost took an eighth-minute lead as Gareth Barry nodded Ross Barkley’s corner across goal the six-yard box for Lukaku, who headed narrowly wide.
The hosts responded impressively, with Downing’s curling free-kick forcing a smart save from Joel Robles.
Aitor Karanka’s men were given an illustration of true Premier League quality as Deulofeu netted a superb goal in the 20th minute, though.
The 21-year-old picked the ball up near the centre-circle and drove powerfully at Boro’s defence before showing real class to beat Ben Gibson and curl a pin-point effort into the bottom-left corner.
Not content with one, Everton pushed for a second and got it just eight minutes later.
Deulofeu was the provider this time, jinking his way down the right wing and sending in a fine cross to the front post, where Lukaku glanced a stunning header in off the inside of the upright.
Middlesbrough responded in decent fashion as Stuani forced a smart stop from Robles, before Kike’s clever chip flew narrowly wide.
Martinez will have likely warned against complacency at half-time given Everton’s disappointment on Saturday, but those calls appeared to fall on deaf ears early in the second period as Boro impressed, Downing seeing a powerful strike turned over by Robles.
The England international was looking an increasing threat and almost teed up a goal when Stuani headed his centre narrowly over.
But Everton weathered the storm prior to their supporters being given a major boost when Baines was introduced.
The left-back was booked just four minutes after his introduction, although that did not take the shine off an impressive performance from the visitors, who reached the semi-finals for the first time since 2007-08.
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