Without a goal at home since they thumped Leeds 4-0 at the end of September, Everton benefited from two in the space of three first-half minutes to take some pressure off themselves and increase that on their opponents.
Struggling at the bottom of the Premiership was not on the agenda for the blue half of Merseyside after the considerable promise of last season, even if David Moyes had tried to calm some of the livelier imaginations among expectant supporters. It was with a measure of relief, therefore, that the Everton manager saw the worst run of his results in his Goodison tenure to date ended by goals from Tomasz Radzinksi and Kevin Kilbane.
It added up to a disappointing return to his roots for Dave Jones, the visitors' ex-Evertonian manager. Even though Wolves have lost only two of their last nine games in all competitions, they have not managed to escape from the bottom three. "We gave the ball away too cheaply," Jones said. "We may have been able to play half-cock in the First Division and get away with it but at this level we cannot do that. With due respect to Everton, had we been up against a top side like Manchester United or Arsenal we could have been badly punished."
Initially, Wolves had looked comfortable despite Wayne Rooney quickly making his presence felt. He registered three goal attempts within the opening 10 minutes, although none from a better chance than had fallen the way of Shaun Newton after five, when the winger glanced Dennis Irwin's inviting cross wastefully wide.
But the visitors' composure was shattered as Everton struck at the double to put themselves suddenly in a commanding position. Two points from five matches had seen their Premiership position nosedive, bringing a nervousness to their play, but when Radzinski put them ahead after 16 minutes, a weight seemed to lift from their shoulders. Three minutes later, they were celebrating a second time.
In each instance, the veteran Irwin, making the 650th League start of his distinguished career, had to accept blame. It was his misplaced pass, aimed towards Alex Rae but intercepted by Tobias Linderoth, that created the opening for Radzinski, although it took a well-placed and powerfully struck shot by the Canadian, 25 yards out, to beat Michael Oakes low to the goalkeeper's left.
Then, as the ever-involved Rooney sent in a splendid cross from the right, delivered under pressure, Irwin was comprehensively out-jumped by Kilbane, whose looping header gave Oakes no chance.
Wolves needed to produce a fightback almost of the magnitude that stunned Leicester after they had led 3-0 at Molineux and it was with such a turn-around in mind that Jones began the second half with Kenny Miller and Nathan Blake promoted from the bench to form a new strike force. However, it was in midfield that Wolves were coming up short, the powerful Everton combination of Thomas Gravesen and Linderoth largely ruling the roost against Paul Ince and Rae.
"I thought Gravesen was outstanding," Moyes said. "In the second half we looked a bit nervous, like a team that had not won in five games, but we were good in the first half and hopefully that result can give us a new platform."
Wolves needed an early response if they were to salvage anything. Instead, they took more than half the time left even to create a worthwhile chance. Moreover, when it came it was squandered, Blake diving into a gap to meet Miller's cross but managing to head the ball straight at Nigel Martyn's body.
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