Everton 3 Sheffield Wednesday 0
Dominic Calvert-Lewin returned from a two-game injury absence to set Everton on the way to the FA Cup fifth round for the first time since 2016.
Calvert-Lewin ended a six-match scoring drought stretching back to the 1-1 draw at Burnley on December 5 with his 16th goal of the season.
And it was even sweeter given that he is Sheffield-born and came through the ranks at Wednesday’s city rivals United, from where Everton signed him in 2016.
He said: “It was good to get back among the goals — especially being a Sheffield United fan and former player!”
Richarlison and Yerry Mina headed second half goals — both from James Rodriguez’s corners — to make it a far more comfortable tie for Everton than their third-round win over Wednesday’s south Yorkshire rivals Rotherham, who had been the better side and took them to extra-time.
It was a night when the Everton rercord books were re-written with Thierry Small, at 16, who was sent on for the last few minutes to become the youngest player in the club’s history, beating Jose Baxter’s record.
Carlo Ancelotti had warned his players to learn the lessons of the Rotherham game and they did just that to set up a fifth-round home tie against either Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham or Wycombe who play tonight.
Wednesday had not played for 15 days since their third-round win over Exeter because of two postponements following positive Covid 19 tests on their players.
But they went into the game on the back of three wins under caretaker boss Neil Thompson, who took over from Tony Pulis, sacked just after Christmas after only 10 games in charge.
Avoiding relegation to League One is their priority but a Cup run would have been a welcome morale-boost for the troubled Yorkshire club who started the season with a 12-point deduction for breaching financial rules, although that has halved on appeal.
They started brightly and were first to threaten with Adam Reach forcing Robin Olsen to punch away his powerful a long-range shot for a corner but Everton soon took control with playmaker James behind their best work and Republic of Ireland right-back Seamus Coleman a constant threat with his overlapping runs on the right flank.
It was from Coleman’s cross that Richarlison had a header tipped over by Wednesday keeper Joe Wildsmith.
The Brazilian then had a ‘goal’ disallowed for a fractional offside after Andre Gomes had split the Wednesday defence.
Calvert-Lewin served notice of what was to come when his close-range shot was saved after a superb James-inspired passing move by Everton had ripped their opponents apart.
And it was no surprise when the Premier League club took a deserved lead after 29 minutes, Calvert-Lewin sliding in at the far post to convert Gomes’ low cross. It was the sort of goal that is becoming his trademark.
And apart from Harry Kane no other English player has scored more goals in all competitions than Calvert-Lewin since Ancelotti took over at Goodison Park 13 months ago.
A solitary goal lead was scant reward for Everton’s first-half dominance but they eased any anxieties and killed off any hopes of a Wednesday comeback with two almost identical goals in three minutes early in the second half.
Richarlison underlined his aerial ability when he glanced home James’ corner in the 59th minute.
And three minutes later Mina did the same three minutes later, powering home another corner by the Colombian.
With the game won, Ancelotti was afforded the luxury to use all five of his substitutes — and give proud Academy graduate Small the chance to make history.
EVERTON (4-2-3-1): Olsen 6; Coleman 6, Mina 6, Holgate 6, Godfrey 6 (Kenny 75, 5); Gomes 7 (Onyango, 85, 5), Doucoure 7; Rodriguez 8 (Small 85, 5), Sigurdsson 7, Richarlison 7 (Gordon 75, 5), Calvert-Lewin 7 (Bernard 66, 5).
SHEFF WED (5-3-2): Wildsmith 6; Harris 6, Urhoghide 6, Brennan 6 (Dele-Bashiru 67, 5), Borner 6, Galvin 6; Reach 6 (Marriott 79, 5), Pelupessy 6, Bannan 6, Paterson 6, Green 5 (Windass 46, 6)
Referee: Graham Scott.