Rejuvenated Arouna Kone hits hat-trick for Everton against Sunderland

Everton 6 Sunderland 2<br>It felt entirely appropriate a team nicknamed the Black Cats crossed Arouna Kone’s path on the day he produced his best performance in an Everton shirt.

Rejuvenated Arouna Kone hits hat-trick for Everton against Sunderland

As the Ivorian walked off the pitch at Goodison Park with the match ball tucked under his arm, his hat-trick having helped vanquish Sunderland and triggered a contract extension, he might have cast his mind back to the start of the season.

Then he was a journeyman striker, past his sell by date, with just one goal in 17 Premier League appearances across an injury-stricken two seasons.

The nadir, perhaps, being the unfair boos from Evertonians which greeted his emergence as a second-half substitute against Watford on the opening day of the season.

Slowly but surely over the past few months the 31-year-old has rebuilt his standing with the Everton fans, and seemingly reinvigorated the final phase of a career that looked to be on a downward spiral.

Although Kone is not particularly pretty on the eye there can be little faulting his unstinting work ethic and zeal for the task in hand.

“He is a sensational example to any young footballer facing adversity,” said Everton manager Roberto Martinez.

“You need to develop that self-belief that you can be important for a team and a club and Arouna has always had that.

“It has been as difficult as you can get. It was a career-threatening injury. His attitude, his focus never changed but he never chose to blame anyone and anything.

“Against Watford, it was very difficult, a real turning point. From that point on, he has been very impressive.” For Martinez, Kone’s treble also emphatically addressed a dip in Everton’s home form – the Toffees having failed to win four of their last five Premier League games at Goodison before this goal bonanza.

Everton – boosted by Seamus Coleman’s return following a stomach bug - were fortunate not to find themselves behind early on when Sunderland twice struck the post with efforts from Patrick van Aanholt and Adam Johnson.

However, Martinez’s side wiped the sleep from their eyes to take a two-goal lead.

First Kone lifted a clever diagonal ball over the Black Cats’ defence to send Gerard Deulofeu scuttling clear, and the Spanish winger cut back inside on his left foot and struck a low shot through the legs of Costel Pantilimon.

Then on the half-hour mark, Kone’s chemistry on the pitch with Romelu Lukaku saw the pair exchange passes on the edge of the box and the former strike an instinctive left-footed shot high into the net.

Just when the half appeared to be petering out, the visitors pulled one back with a goal of nothing.

Jermain Defoe took advantage of some indecisiveness by John Stones from a speculative long ball from Sebastian Coates, adroitly flicked the ball over Ramiro Funes Mori, then struck a half-volley – via a deflection off the boot of Stones – over Howard.

With their spirits lifted Sunderland equalised early in the second half when a deep Van Aanholt cross was met by Steven Fletcher, who climbed above Ramiro Funes Mori to head in.

underland were then blown away by an Everton blitzkrieg as the home side struck four unanswered goals.

Coates, in an attempt to deny Lukaku, diverted a low Deulofeu cross past Pantilimon and moments later the same Everton combination added a fourth.

Deulofeu’s sublime pass sent Lukaku clear of the visitors’ defence and the Belgium forward rounded Pantilimon and passed the ball into the net.

Kone notched Everton’s third when he crashed the ball home at the back post from James McCarthy’s pass.

The former Wigan striker completed his own treble with 14 minutes left with a headed goal from close range.

After his dream start against Newcastle this was a stark reality check for Allardyce, as the scale of the task to keep the club in the top fight was laid bare.

The Black Cats have failed to keep a clean sheet in 11 of their last 12 Premier League matches. Continue in that vein and relegation beckons.

“I am obviously concerned about the lack of understanding in certain periods of the game, particularly when we got back to 2-2,” Allardyce said.

“Lack of discipline and understanding has really frustrated me.”

EVERTON (4-2-3-1): Howard 6; Coleman 7, Stones 5, Funes Mori 5, Oviedo 6 (Galloway 25; 7); McCarthy 7, Barry 6; Deulofeu 8 (Mirallas 65; 7), Barkley 7, Kone 8; Lukaku 7 (Osman 78; 6)

SUNDERLAND (5-3-2): Pantilimon 5; Yedlin 5 (Larsson 64; 6), Jones 6, Brown 5, Coates 5, Van Aanholt 7; Cattermole 7 (Rodwell 38; 7), M’Vila 5, Johnson 6; Fletcher 7 (Watmore 75; 6), Defoe 7

Referee: Andre Marriner

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