Everton return to winning ways
Derby 0 Everton 2:Ayegbeni Yakubu grabbed his second Barclays Premier League goal for Everton as David Moyes' men heaped more woe upon struggling Derby in an uninspiring encounter at Pride Park.
Yakubu struck a low left-foot finish past Stephen Bywater in the 62nd minute to effectively wrap up victory for the visitors who had taken a 26th minute lead through Mikel Arteta.
Despite a first league start for teenage prospect Giles Barnes and a rare second half appearance from record signing Robert Earnshaw, the home side never threatened to claw their way back for a point.
The Rams had reason to start brightly having picked up their first away point at Fulham last time out, and Barnes' appearance from the start also gave the home fans cause for optimism.
But Everton had their own impetus with Tim Cahill's first league start since March, and they would ultimately have the better of a dull first period in which neither keeper was unduly tested.
Arteta should have scored in the third minute when he was presented with a glorious opportunity from Leighton Baines' left-wing cross but side-footed a poor effort straight at Bywater.
Two minutes later Baines cut into the Rams box unchallenged and set up a chance for Steven Pienaar who mis-kicked in front of goal. Cahill was inches wide with a header when the ball was punted back into the box.
With the Rams showing next to nothing, Everton snatched the lead in the 26th minute with a swift counter-attack begun by Phil Jagielka's long ball forward from the half-way line.
Yakubu played a clever dummy which caught out the home defence and gifted Arteta a clear run on goal, with the Spaniard taking full advantage with a low shot under Bywater.
The spluttering Rams responded with a low long-range shot from Stephen Pearson which was well saved by Howard but that proved the best of what passed for their first half chances.
It was business as usual after the break, with Joseph Yobo inches away from extending Everton's lead in the 47th minute when he flashed a header from a Cahill corner inches wide.
With the Rams continuing to offer nothing in attack boss Billy Davies finally decided to introduce record signing Earnshaw in the 57th minute in place of Eddie Lewis.
It was only the second time in seven matches the £3.5million summer buy from Norwich had been given a chance to impress and his goalscoring instincts were certainly required by the lacklustre home side.
They were required more than ever after 62 minutes when Pienaar played a low ball into the Rams box and dismal defending enabled Yakubu to skip through unchallenged and hit a low left-foot shot past Bywater.
The visitors proceeded to coast through the final half hour of a forgettable match with Earnshaw hardly getting a kick and Moyes' men happy enough to simply get back to winning ways.