The day after Halloween and the day began for me rising from what felt like the dead on a mates couch in Crosby. Following a friends Halloween party I was unable to get a taxi home and so stayed over, awaking at 8am still dressed as a zombie and getting a taxi back home for a few hours of precious sleep. Ste arrived at 11.30am, picking me up aand driving over to Goodison Park.
It was just Ste and I in the pub with Gaz unable to make this game and Gary only just about making kick off and meeting us at our seats. It was good to catch up with Ste over a beer or two and we were pretty happy with the team news with Coleman and Oviedo returning to form a more settled defence and Gerard Deulofeu and Arouna Kone both featuring. Jack Rodwell featured from the substitutes bench.
I bought a match programme along Goodison Road which featured a really nice tribute to the late, great Howard Kendall. A minutes' applause was asked for on the fourth minute of the match in respect of Howard, and this was wonderfully observed by both sets of supporters. We could have been a goal down by then of course when Van Aanholt's drive came back off the inside of the post in the opening exchanges. Everton were struggling to get a handle on the game and Sunderland again struck the post a little later on, this time from Adam Johnson's strike following a Tim Howard save from Jermain Defoe.
We also survived a penalty scare when Gareth Barry, filling in at left back with Bryan Oviedo unfortunately heading down the tunnel with another injury, got in the way of a shot by Stephen Fletcher. The shot hit Barry's hands though Andre Marriner couldn't be certain if it was ball to hand or handball. What was certain however was that Everton were struggling and should have been behind with only really a powderpuf Lukaku shot and a wayward Barkley drive efforts from memory.
This all changed when Gerard Deulofeu was released by an excellent through ball from Arouna Kone. The Spaniard did well to cut inside his defender onto his left foot and stroke the ball into the net through the legs of Pantilimon. Everton ahead though it was scarcely deserved.
The goal did ignite us however. We found our spark and doubled our lead when Arouna Kone found space and took aim with his left foot from the left edge of the penalty area. It was a great shot though I felt Pantilimon may have done a little better with it. Nevertheless we found ourselves two goals ahead.
Sunderland appeared deflated and had we turned the screw a little more we could have gone in at the break three goals ahead. As it turned out we went in at half time just the one goal ahead when Jermain Defoe hit a superb half volley past Tim Howard following a poor mistake from John Stones. I could not take the grimace off my face and was dreading the second half at the break, during which, members of Howard Kendall's family were welcomed onto the pitch in what was a nice moment.
My worst nightmares came to fruition, albeit temporarily, early in the second half when Stephen Fletcher headed Sunderland level from a Van Aanholt centre. I'd have to see it again to identify if anybody was at fault for the goal. I couldn't tell from the Lower Gwladys if it was a cross Howard should have claimed or one Funes Mori should have headed out but it was a good header by Fletcher and Everton looked to have blown it.
Thankfully there was still plenty of time left on the clock and Everton made the most of it to rack up another four goals to make for quite an incredible scoreline. Our third came when Deulofeu's cross was turned into his own net by ex-Liverpudlian Sebastian Coates. Sunderland then prowled forward for another equaliser and this is when Everton really clicked into gear with exquisite counter attacking. Gerard Deulofeu played an incisive defence splitting ball into Romelu Lukaku who rounded Pantilimon to slot home for our fourth goal; and, just two minutes later Arouna Kone made it 5-2, finishing calmly, this time with his right foot, after an excellent flowing move which also involved Ross Barkley and James McCarthy. It was nice to see Kevin Miralas, who was warming up at the time, join in the celebrations also.
It was now party time as Everton were pinging passes around. One move contained what would surely have been a record-breaking number of passes leading to a Premier League goal had the final ball been a better one once we got behind Sunderland. That would have been something special, though it was Kone's special day. Celebrating a new contract to tie him to Everton until 2017, he completed the perfect hat-trick when he headed in a brilliant left footed cross from Lukaku to make it 6-2 to Everton.
Lukaku was substituted to give Leon Osman a run out as we eased off the gas. You feel we could actually have scored more had we kept on firing at Sunderland but we'd done more than enough.
So despite a dreadful opening 20 minutes or so the match really entertained and we were treated to some excellent goals. Lets make no mistake, Sunderland were very poor defensively and it won't be that easy every week but with the run of games we now have until the new year we can go into them with the confidence that we can beat a lot of the teams coming up.
More than anything else, I'd like to think that the game was won for Howard Kendall and that he was watching down with a big smile on his face.
RIP Howard Kendall.
Howard: Following the Arsenal game I've finally begun to agree with what seems like the majority and call for Howard to be dropped. I recall a brief time under the David Moyes regime when he came under some scrutiny and his performance improved. I felt his performance was improved today also. Maybe we should criticise him ore often! 7
Oviedo: Was doing fine until he limped off injured. A real shame for Bryan and you wonder if he will ever be able to get himself fully match fit again. Luckily Leighton Baines appears to be on the way back soon however. 6
Funes Mori: After a rather nervy start when he lost a few headers he seemed to compose himself and improved, particularly in the second half. 6
Stones: Made an awful error for Sunderland's first goal but like Funes Mori, improved for the second half. 6
Coleman: Not as influential as he can be but did OK. 6
Barry: I was pleased to see him captain the side. He had a pretty average game generally, some good things, some bad. 6
McCarthy: Was very dominant in midfield and ran all day. Nice to see him get up the pitch with an assist also. 7
Deulofeu: Worked hard and did a lot of running, scoring a goal and creating two assists. Nice to see him starting to settle. Could have a big impact in these next nine games prior to Christmas. 8
Barkley: After a bright start to the season he seems to again be struggling a little and not quite imposing himself on games as he can. Hopefully it's just a blip and he can get back to his best. 6
Kone: My man of the match. His best performance in a blue shirt by far which included a perfect hat-trick. Hopefully he can maintain this level of performance. 9
Lukaku: If you play someone up there with him you get so much more from Romelu Lukaku. A goal and two assists. Not a bad afternoon at all. 8
Galloway (for Oviedo): Coped fine and stayed solid defensively. 6
Mirallas (for Deulofeu): Got involved and almost got in on the act with a drive which curled just past the post. 7
Osman (for Lukaku): Nice to see him playing. Not at his best but got involved. 6