Everton daring to hope they can mix with the big boys

Swansea City 0 Everton 3

The Liberty Stadium

Everton felt cheated five days ago after having two goals disallowed in the draw with Newcastle, but David Moyes’ men ensured there was no dispute about the scoreline here with a comprehensive victory.

The Toffees produced a masterful display right from the off and were duly rewarded with strikes from Victor Anichebe, Kevin Mirallas and Marouane Fellaini.

During his 10-year tenure in charge of the Blues, Moyes has often cut a frustrated figure as FA Cup and Champions’ League opportunities have passed him by. Yet this season feels different. Everton have a squad that has more strength in depth and they showed that they listen to the manager, whose pre-match rallying cry was to take the next step. They did in style, jumping into second spot in the table.

The convincing result – which could have been by much more had it not been for some poor second-half finishing – allowed the travelling Blues supporters to leave south Wales singing, “We’re gonna win the league”, which left Moyes in jubilant mood. He beamed afterwards: “It’s great because we don’t hear that very often. We could be quite easily mixing with the big boys. We’ve not often been in the position. We finished seasons strong and the one season we started strong we finished in a Champions’ League place.

“I’m delighted. The result and the performance matched each other and we played really well from the opening minute right to the end. We should have scored more with the amount of ball and the opportunities we had.

“We were a bit wasteful in the final third and we needed our goalkeeper to make a few saves but the result was correct. Hopefully we are still mixing it at the end of the season.”

Swansea were on the back foot as soon as the opening minute when Anichebe’s close-range header from Leighton Baines’s free-kick was gathered by Michel Vorm at the second attempt. Moyes’s men played at a lightning pace as Mirallas was twice denied by Vorm.

Swansea had a major let-off in the 11th minute when Ashley Williams hacked down Anichebe after Wayne Routledge conceded possession. Everton cried for a red card with Williams retreating as the last man, but Manchester official Anthony Taylor deemed his centre-back partner, Alan Tate, was covering.

Swansea briefly threatened as club-record signing, Pablo Hernandez, handed his first start ahead of Nathan Dyer, volleyed wide after John Heitinga half-cleared. But the tide was firmly with the Merseysiders as Anichebe fired a powerful 20-yard effort straight at Vorm.

The only surprise was it took 21 minutes for the opening goal to come. Another Baines free-kick from the left saw Fellaini chest the ball past Williams before controversially scooping it with his forearm beyond Tate to find Anichebe, who smashed it into the bottom corner.

It brought Swansea to life as a Hernandez effort was cleared off the line, Michu headed over from six yards and Ki’s 25-yard shot curled inches wide. But Everton hit back with a killer second from Mirallas. Fellaini’s pass inside Ben Davies allowed Steven Pienaar to square for Mirallas, who got ahead of Tate and Angel Rangel at the far post. Vorm managed to touch Mirallas’s first effort on to the bar, but the Belgian was first to the rebound.

Swansea were almost handed a lifeline before the break as Rangel was denied by Tim Howard. Then the Everton keeper came to the rescue in the second half to stop Michu from point-blank range. But Everton were the better side even before Swansea substitute Nathan Dyer was sent off for two yellow cards.

Mirallas hit the bar for a second time and Fellaini missed two chances before finally diverting Baines’s free-kick past Vorm to inflict Swansea’s heaviest home defeat since the 3-0 loss to Middlesbrough in August 2009. The Swansea manager Michael Laudrup admitted: “Everton deserved the win.”

Swansea (4-2-3-1): Vorm; Rangel, Tate (Britton, 55), Williams, Davies; Ki, de Guzman; Michu, Hernandez (Dyer, 46), Graham (Shechter, 72); Routledge.

Everton (4-3-3): Howard; Coleman, Jagielka , Heitinga, Baines; Mirallas (Naismith, 71), Neville, Osman; Pienaar (Gueye, 86), Fellaini (Oviedo, 86), Anichebe.

Referee: Andrew Taylor.

Man of the match: Anichebe (Everton)

Match rating: 8/10

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