Early goals book Everton a place in quarter-finals
Everton 2 Blackpool 0
Saturday 18 February 2012
Two goals in the opening six minutes proved enough for Everton to get past Blackpool at Goodison Park and book their place in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Royston Drenthe fired Everton ahead in the first minute after being teed up by Marouane Fellaini and Denis Stracqualursi struck to double the lead five minutes later.
The Toffees had plenty of chances to extend their advantage but were unable to do so and survived several scares, with Blackpool twice hitting the woodwork in the second half before Kevin Phillips skied a penalty over in stoppage time.
The result means David Moyes' men are now unbeaten in seven games in all competitions, with their past four at home all being wins.
Everton's starting line-up showed three adjustments from the last of those victories, the 2-0 Barclays Premier League triumph over Chelsea, with Drenthe, Magaye Gueye and Tony Hibbert coming in for the ill Landon Donovan - unable to make a final appearance for the Toffees before returning to the Los Angeles Galaxy - the cup-tied Steven Pienaar and Tim Cahill.
Blackpool manager Ian Holloway, who is looking to guide the Tangerines to a second promotion from the npower Championship in three seasons and perhaps had an eye on Tuesday's league clash with West Ham, shuffled his pack extensively by making seven changes.
While providing plenty of entertainment with their attacking play last term, the Seasiders had frequently looked vulnerable at the back during their maiden campaign in the top-flight and it took less than 50 seconds for Everton to breach their defence today.
Fellaini collected Gueye's pass from the left in the box, turned and rolled the ball to Drenthe, who lashed it beyond Blackpool goalkeeper Matt Gilks into the net.
Moments later, the Toffees had another goal as Drenthe's corner came to Stracqualursi via a flick-on.
The Argentinian missed with his first swing at the ball but managed to tuck it home from close range at the second attempt.
The visitors looked for a way back into the game and after Phillips had drilled a free-kick into the wall, Everton stopper Tim Howard came out to deny Gary Taylor-Fletcher, the pair colliding and the Blackpool man subsequently having to come off for Roman Bednar.
Gueye had reason to be aggrieved at his team-mate Darron Gibson when the Republic of Ireland international intercepted a pass to him in a useful position, only to skew a shot horribly wide.
Stracqualursi was then just unable to get on the end of Gueye's cross before Craig Cathcart blazed over at the other end.
Everton's control over proceedings showed little sign of letting up as the first half drew to a close, with Fellaini seeing a shot deflect wide, Gilks saving an effort from Gibson and Stracqualursi heading too high.
Fellaini then missed with a header of his own and Drenthe curled a free-kick over the bar, before Ludovic Sylvestre called Howard into action with a drive.
Howard collected a free-kick from Tom Ince early in the second half, but it was the Toffees soon applying the pressure again, with only a sliding tackle by Robert Harris ensuring neither Fellaini nor Gibson converted Stracqualursi's cross.
Gilks then pulled off a great save to push behind a fizzing shot from Drenthe and John Heitinga headed the resulting corner over.
Phillips struck a free-kick that Howard caught easily, but the veteran striker went closer soon after with another, smacking the ball against the woodwork.
Phillips then tried his luck again but hoisted his attempt into the stand.
Stracqualursi nearly got on the scoresheet again, but Gilks blocked his hook-shot from Leighton Baines' delivery and the big forward then lost his footing as he struck another effort which went well off-target.
Harris denied Everton once more with 10 minutes to go, clearing off the line from Fellaini, who headed over soon after.
Substitute Seamus Coleman, a former Blackpool loanee, brought a save out of Gilks before the visitors twice almost pulled a goal back late on.
First, Lomana LuaLua saw Howard tip his strike on to the post and in the dying seconds, Blackpool earned a spot-kick when Heitinga fouled Bednar, but Phillips sent it sailing over the crossbar.
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