Blues resurgent as Cats lose again
Tim Cahill's seventh-minute header put Everton in front and Donovan's effort 11 minutes later looked likely to set the Toffees up for a big win. In the end the home side simply coasted home as the Black Cats were left with just one win in their last 13 Premier League matches. They were hammered 7-2 at Chelsea in their last league outing and have now conceded 18 goals in their last six top-flight fixtures and are just three points above the relegation zone. But to denigrate the Black Cats takes away from an Everton performance, particularly in the first half, which was clinically effective and extended their unbeaten league run to eight matches and lifted them to ninth in the table. Both clubs were knocked out of the FA Cup at the weekend but it appeared only one set of players were able to produce a response. Steve Bruce dropped striker Kenwyne Jones to the bench after this week claiming he had been distracted by links with Liverpool. However, it seemed the minds of 11 he did select were elsewhere in a first half which Everton completely dominated. Centre-back Matthew Kilgallon was given a debut having moved from Sheffield United last week but, just seven minutes in, he failed to pick up Cahill with dire consequences. Full-back Leighton Baines found an advanced position down the left and turned the ball inside to Marouane Fellaini, who clipped a cross to the near post which the Australia midfielder flicked on with his head and into the far corner of Craig Gordon's net. Baines and Cahill both played their parts in Everton's second goal 11 minutes later when the defender's long ball was headed into Donovan's path by the Australian on the edge of the penalty area. The United States international, who has made the move to Merseyside during Major League Soccer's close season, made sure the ball was out of his feet before firing a low left-footed shot past Gordon. An ankle injury to Kieran Richardson meant Jones was given an earlier-than-expected introduction in the 26th minute but the momentum was all with Everton and Leon Osman jinked his way past a static defence before curling a shot straight at the Sunderland goalkeeper. Cahill could have done better from Louis Saha's knock-on but he produced an uncharacteristically weak header in the six-yard area, while Baines drove a 30-yard free-kick straight at Gordon just before the interval. Lee Cattermole, making his first start for over a month, was replaced by Andy Reid at half-time while makeshift full-back John Mensah switched positions with centre-half Nyron Nosworthy. The reshuffle did little to quell the Everton tide and they almost made it 3-0 in the 57th minute. Osman dispossessed Kilgallon and released Donovan who rounded Gordon but, with his left-foot shot destined for the back of the net, George McCartney got across to block with his knee. A minute later Mensah produced a last-ditch tackle to deny Saha as he raced clear into the penalty area, while Osman shot well wide when played in by Donovan. Mikel Arteta and James Vaughan - two players who have had their fair share of injury problems in the last year - were sent on for a gentle work-out in the in the final 15 minutes at the expense of Donovan and Saha. Jones had been virtually anonymous since his introduction and one late fluffed effort prompted chants of "Rafa, sign him up" from the Goodison faithful. Boudewijn Zenden produced a late save from Howard but Sunderland's major issues are at the other end of the pitch. Things are improving for Everton though as, with their injury crisis easing by the day, they continue their quiet progress up the table.