After Liverpool's grim night in Istanbul, Everton's European ambitions look in rather better shape. With a performance that had moments of high quality, the blue team from Merseyside sweetened some of the lingering bitterness from their contentious derby defeat by launching their Uefa Cup group stage campaign on a victorious note.
Their manager, David Moyes, is still seething over the manner of Liverpool's win at Goodison Park last Saturday but there was plenty to improve his frame of mind as the return after injury of Tim Cahill inspired Everton's most effective 90 minutes of the season.
The Australian had not played a fully competitive match since suffering a broken metatarsal in March yet it took little more than 13 minutes for him to remind Everton of the creative spark and the eye for goal that had become a vital element of their game before his injury.
Cahill stooped to head home Leon Osman's cross to give Everton a fine start against the team that knocked out Blackburn and when Osman delivered a scorching second goal five minutes into the second half the points looked safe.
A mistake by Joleon Lescott, capitalised upon by the Brazilian, Cleyton, gave Larissa a glimmer of hope after 65 minutes but substitute Victor Anichebe ended the Greek side's hopes of reward with Everton's third five minutes from time.
"At times the performance was excellent," Moyes said. "We got a wee bit carried away after a wonderful second goal and one moment of madness made us a bit uneasy but we deserved the win. We have missed Tim in those tight moments when you need someone to make something happen and he is Johnny-on-the-spot when it comes to popping up to score a goal. Having him and Thomas Gravesen back has given the place a lift."
Two chances for James McFadden could have made the game safe for Everton even before Osman struck. But when Stephen Pienaar back-heeled a low cross by Leighton Baines into his path, the midfielder gave Larissa's goalkeeper Stefanos Kotsolis no chance with a powerful strike from 20 yards.
Cleyton dispossessed Lescott before firing home low past Tim Howard with 25 minutes left, giving the Greek side previously unseen impetus, but Everton's two-goal cushion was restored five minutes from the end when substitute Anichebe held off the challenges of two defenders before slotting the ball past Kotsolis to put the result beyond doubt.
Everton (4-1-4-1): Howard; Hibbert, Yobo, Lescott, Baines; Osman; Arteta, Cahill (Gravesen, 65), Carsley, Pienaar (Stubbs, 87); McFadden (Anichebe, 65). Substitutes not used: Jagielka, Valente, Yakubu, Wessels (gk).
Larissa (4-1-3-2): Kotsolis; Gkalitsios, Dabizas, Foerster (Venetis, 79), Venetidis; Kyriakidis (Lampropoulos, 75); Carlos Parra (Kalantzis, 58), Sarmiento, Fotakis; Cleyton, Bakayoko. Substitutes not used: Kipouros (gk), Kotsios, Gkikas, Katsiaros.
Referee: M Ingvarsson (Sweden).Reuse content