Everton 3 Sheffield Wednesday 0
Dominic Calvert-Lewin marked his return from injury with his 15th goal of the season as Everton cantered to a place in the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time in five years with victory against Sheffield Wednesday.
There are plenty of sides remaining in the last 16 who will fancy their chances of winning it: and there was certainly no evidence here to dissuade the suggestion that the Toffees are in that bracket.
Credit must go to Sheffield Wednesday, who played with the attitude and spirit of a side far better than their current league position, as they fight to avoid relegation from the Championship. But in the end, the Owls had no answer for the attacking flair Everton possessed on the night. From a very early stage, it felt like when, rather than if, Everton booked their place in the next round.
Calvert-Lewin's first half strike, his first since early-December, put the Premier League side ahead at half-time, before further goals from Richarlison and Yerry Mina ensured it would be a comfortable night's work for Carlo Ancelotti's side, who will host Wycombe Wanderers or Tottenham Hotspur in the last 16.
With Calvert-Lewin returning to spearhead Everton's attack and Carlo Ancelotti naming a strong starting line-up in the hosts' bid to reach the fifth round for the first time in five years, the opening 45 minutes was an exercise in complete dominance from the Premier League side.
There were odd chances for the visitors in between the litany of opportunities for Everton, the best of which saw Adam Reach's effort produce a smart save from Robin Olsen, but Everton were much the better of the two sides. That dominance eventually bore fruit on the half-hour mark, when Calvert-Lewin turned in a wonderful ball from André Gomes, but there were chances aplenty both before and after the England striker's first goal in over six weeks.
Richarlison looked to have opened the scoring after quarter of an hour, but the Brazilian was ruled to be offside after James Rodríguez's ball cut through an under-strength Wednesday defence. Inevitably, it was through Rodríguez that most of the hosts' best opportunities came, including a wonderful passage of play that led to Joe Wildsmith saving from Calvert-Lewin.
When the opener came, it was deserved. Gomes’ driving run into the box saw him drill across Wildsmith’s goal, with Calvert-Lewin on hand to turn home at the back post. Two minutes later, he came close to a second, but he failed to get the vital touch on a superb ball from Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Sigurdsson then had a good chance to double Everton's lead himself, but the midfielder flashed wide after more intricate passing from the hosts, with Rodríguez again at the heart of the play. The Championship side were clinging on, and had Richarlison steered home a Seamus Coleman ball, they may have been out of the tie by half time. Instead, they were still in contention, trailing by only one at the break.
But unfortunately for Wednesday, the theme would continue after half time. Wildsmith did well to deny Calvert-Lewin once again, but as the chances kept coming, it felt like a matter of time before Everton put the tie to bed. That moment eventually arrived, as Richarlison headed home a pinpoint Rodríguez cross: before the Colombian repeated the track two minutes later.
Richarlison looked on course to score his second in as many minutes after being put through by Rodríguez, before a superb fingertip save from Wildsmith denied the Brazilian. However, from the resulting corner, James found Yerry Mina unmarked in the area to score Everton’s third. On the balance of play, it was deserved.
With the job done, Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison were afforded a rest for the final quarter. Wednesday, whose task will now turn to attempting to erode the six-point gap between themselves and Championship safety, continued to press forward with spirit, though they were unable to properly test Olsen.
And with the result secure, Ancelotti used the final five minutes to introduce Thierry Small and Tyler Onyango for their first senior appearances: with the former becoming Everton's youngest-ever player in the process at the age of 16 years and 176 days. He, just like this squad it seems, could have a bright future ahead. - Guardian