McFadden proves Beattie's foil

Everton 3 - Sunderland 0
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The Independent Online

It would be unfair to say there was not a surprise at Goodison Park yesterday. True, this fourth-round tie was a routine flexing of the muscles by the Premiership giants, but a note in the match programme had eyebrows rising even if the game had so few twists it could have been an EastEnders script.

It would be unfair to say there was not a surprise at Goodison Park yesterday. True, this fourth-round tie was a routine flexing of the muscles by the Premiership giants, but a note in the match programme had eyebrows rising even if the game had so few twists it could have been an EastEnders script.

Who has won most FA Cup matches? Manchester United? Arsenal? Tottenham Hotspur even? The answer is Everton with 208, which is a statistical shock since they have not won the trophy for a decade, but it might prove a pointer as to who might lift it in Cardiff this May.

If they meet as little resistance as they faced yesterday they will fancy their chances of winning their sixth FA Cup. On the face of it, Championship side Sunderland, who were semi-finalists last year, looked like underdogs with teeth but they carried all the threat of perfumed and permed French poodles. They were not so much Black Cats as white flags.

The tie was effectively over after 27 minutes thanks to goals from James McFadden and Sunderland's Danny Collins, who turned James Beattie's shot into his own net, although it was credited to the new recruit. Sunderland improved from poor to adequate in the second half, but even the most one-eyed Wearsider would have problems arguing with the result. Tim Cahill got a third for Everton and they could have added several more.

"We were well and truly beaten by a side who were comfortably better than us, no argument," Mick McCarthy, the Sunderland manager, said. "Sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say good luck to them."

Everton's supremacy was due in no small part to McFadden, who has been a disappointment since his transfer from Motherwell but whose pace and trickery made him an elusive target for Sunderland's defenders. There has been some debate on Goodison as to who should partner Beattie up front. Here McFadden made a persuasive case for himself.

McFadden came in for Marcus Bent yesterday but, for the Sunderland fans, Moyes could have played 10 goalkeepers as long as the 11th man was Kevin Kilbane. They booed the Republic of Ireland winger when he was at the Stadium of Light and showed they were not going to alter their boorish, if predictable, behaviour when his name was read out here.

They were not jeering after eight minutes, however, when Kilbane's cross from the left was met by Beattie's diving header, which was kept out by Thomas Myhre's leap to his left (the Sunderland goalkeeper was warmly applauded by his former fans at Everton, incidentally) and their boos were well and truly muted temporarily when Kilbane played a crucial part in Everton's goal a minute later.

Kilbane may not be the quickest winger but, when he finds space, his crossing can be a danger to any defence. Sunderland, forewarned, were watching Beattie, Kilbane noted McFadden's run to the near post ahead of Neill Collins and his curling pass was volleyed in by the Scottish international.

After 27 minutes the score was 2-0, and although Everton credited Beattie with his first goal since his £6m transfer from Southampton, it may yet be awarded to the Sunderland defender Danny Collins. Which is not to belittle Beattie's part because a crafty flick with his heel left Neill Collins in his wake and his shot was powerful enough to cause the other Collins to panic, stick out a foot and divert the ball past Myhre.

"I think you'll find Myhre could have stood on it, pirouetted and supped his pint before it affected him because the ball was going straight into his hands." McCarthy said, "but if Beattie wants to claim it, good luck to him."

The only glint of light for the visitors in the first half had come just before the interval when Julio Arca's shot was parried by Richard Wright. Either that, or a tongue-lashing by McCarthy, had an effect because Sunderland opened the second half with much more intent, Sean Thornton thumping a 25-yard shot towards the foot of a post which again brought a good save from Wright.

Sunderland also could have stirred a few home nerves after 64 minutes when Stephen Elliott skipped round substitute David Weir and had a clear route to goal. Having done the hard part, however, he pulled his shot wide.

Michael Bridges also had a chance late in the game but Everton always appeared to be coasting rather than fretting and with 10 minutes to go they supplied the candles to the icing that had been setting since the first half. The impish McFadden made space for himself and curled a cross to the far post where Cahill headed in.

Everton's record was extended and you suspect that few of the 207 that have gone before were much easier.

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