Everton escalated Wolves’ relegation woes with three clinical first-half finishes that sealed a comfortable 3-0 win at the Molineux on Saturday.
A treble of well-taken goals from Jermaine Beckford, Phil Neville and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov stunned a Wolves side that has conceded seven goals in their past two games and face an uphill battle to climb out of the bottom three with just six matches remaining.
The hosts began on the front foot with Adlene Guedioura – making his first appearance since breaking his leg in September – neatly turning and firing in a half-volley that Neville dived in to deflect wide and Leon Osman clearing Stephen Fletcher’s hopeful header.
Deprived of the attacking thrust of several first-team regulars, Everton survived an uneasy opening period to suddenly strike against the run of play.
Beckford edged past Richard Stearman to flick a 21st-minute header past Wayne Hennessey following excellent approach play from the Toffees, that allowed Osman to supply the right-wing cross.
Guedioura curled a teasing shot narrowly wide as Wolves looked to bounce back but Beckford should have added a second goal just past the half-hour mark, but he miscued his headed attempt from another right-wing Osman cross.
Everton then escaped a desperate goalmouth scramble as Wolves failed to find an equaliser, and David Moyes’ men responded with a brilliant breakaway goal of their own seconds later.
Hennessey had already pawed away a deflection off his left-back George Elokobi, but was powerless to stop Neville lashing home his first goal since 2008 with an angled shot from the edge of the area.
Worse was to follow for the hosts who contrived to set up Everton’s third as Bilyaletdinov seized upon a mix up by Wolves in midfield, to stride forward and rifle a lethal 30-yard drive in to the top corner to leave the hosts shell shocked at the break.
Wolves rallied briefly with Karl Henry and Guedioura both forcing excellent saves out of Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard but with any hint of vital survival points snuffed out by half time, the visitors coasted to a sixth match unbeaten in the league.
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