Stoke City’s troubling recent form persisted in suitably miserable conditions at the Britannia Stadium, as free-scoring Everton ran riot in a 3-0 Premier League victory.
In howling wind and pouring rain, the Potters conceded three goals for the third successive outing in all competitions and rarely threatened their visitors on an outing to forget.
Stoke included record signing Gianelli Imbula in their starting XI, but fell behind to Romelu Lukaku’s early penalty and conceded twice more – to Seamus Coleman and Aaron Lennon – before half-time.
From that situation, a recovery was impossible and Stoke are now without a win in four matches.
Everton, meanwhile, bounced to a third victory in a row in league and cup, and made amends for the 4-3 defeat to their opponents in the corresponding fixture at Goodison Park back in December.
Lukaku struck the frame of the goal in the second period and Jack Butland made several impressive saves to prevent the defeat becoming a mauling but Everton were still worthy and emphatic victors.
Missing defensive regulars Ryan Shawcross, Geoff Cameron and Marc Wilson, the home side looked shaky throughout and Everton were handed the lead in the 11th minute.
Bryan Oviedo slid in Tom Cleverley after a tidy touch from Ross Barkley in midfield and the Manchester United man was hauled down as he went around Butland. Lukaku made no mistake from the spot for his 20th goal of the campaign.
The two teams exchanged possession with alarming regularity in the moments after the goal until, in the 28th minute, Coleman popped up to put the away side further in front, glancing Cleverley’s left-wing delivery into the far corner for his first goal in 11 months.
Stoke tried to find a quick reply but Mame Biram Diouf nodded off target from Ibrahim Afellay’s cross, before Imbula sent a wild shot high and wide, and Mark Hughes’ men imploded three minutes before the break.
Phillip Wollscheid’s woeful pass only succeeded in playing in Lennon, who cantered into the Stoke box and slotted calmly beyond Butland.
Stoke came out after the interval with renewed determination but, as they pushed forward in search of a way back into the contest, Everton were able to expose their hosts on the counter.
Barkley and Lukaku combined twice to hit the side netting and bring Butland into a fine save respectively, and the Stoke keeper had to be alert again just after the hour mark to deny the Belgian from close range.
Glen Johnson saw a swerving, 20-yard drive pushed away by Joel Robles in the Everton goal on a rare Stoke attack, but Butland had to brilliantly save Arouna Kone’s effort soon after from and, from the resultant corner, Funes Mori wasted a free header.
The England keeper’s heroics were wholly in vain, however, as Everton leapfrogged their opponents and into the top half.
Key Opta stats:
– Romelu Lukaku has scored 16 Premier League goals this season, the joint-most by an Everton player in a single season along with Tony Cottee in 1993-94.
– Seamus Coleman scored his first Premier League goal since March 2015 and ended a run of 27 PL appearances without a goal.
– Stoke conceded three goals in the first half of a Premier League game for the first time since December 2012 v Southampton.
– Everton scored three first-half goals in an away Premier League game for the ninth time and for the first time since August 2012 against Aston Villa.
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