Everton toast Hope's Milk Cup hat-trick
Everton 3 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2
It was land of Hope and glory for Everton as striking sensation Hallam Hope plundered a second Milk Cup hat-trick to give his team the Junior title.
Hope, tracked by a posse of scouts at the tournament this week, hauled Everton back from two down against Wolves and then completed his treble with a superbly angled finish.
It was Everton’s third title at the tournament and their first since 2002 while Hope was handed the man of the match accolade and also walked off with the Golden Boot with nine goals in five games.
Everton had made the early running and looked comfortable on the ball, but after Zac Thompson had lifted a shot over the bar and Matthew Harris sent his shot straight at Wolves keeper Raajan Gill, Wolves warmed to the challenge.
The ever alert Zele Ismail made a menacing run down the right flank before firing in a cross which came to nothing.
Then Toffees’ keeper James Fitzgibbon failed to deal with Andre Landell’s effort in front of goal and as he attempted to scramble the ball off the line he only succeeded in pushing it into the net with 11 minutes gone.
Aaron Forde doubled Wolves’ lead within two minutes. Left in space inside the penalty area he fired a blistering right foot shot into the top right hand corner of the net.
Just when it looked as though the Merseysiders might wilt under the barrage, Hope stamped his class on proceedings, delivering a brace inside three minutes.
The striker stepped up to crash a 22 yard drive past keeper Raajan Gill on 23 minutes and then picked up a pass, slipped a defender and rounded Gill before steering the ball into the empty net.
Sean Myler produced a timely tackle to prevent Ismail making progress inside the box while Everton’s Ross Berkley drilled a ground shot wide from Zac Thompson’s assist.
Both sides had half chances to seal victory in the second period, but it was left to brilliant Hope to collect a pinpoint pass from Adam Cummins and despite the attention of two defenders he controlled the ball and squeezed a close range shot past.