Everton 3 Fulham 0: Hungry 'Yak' and derby day blues inspire Everton's winning run
Everton rocket on. A hat-trick from Aiyegbeni Yakubu – his first for the club since his £11.25m signing from Middlesbrough – extended their unbeaten run of games to 10 in all competitions, of which eight have been victories.
What lit the Blues' touch paper, according to their manager David Moyes, was the perceived injustice of their 2-1 home derby defeat to Liverpool on 20 October, when Tony Hibbert and Phil Neville were sent off.
"I said at the time that I felt it would make us stronger and I think it did," Moyes said after watching his team finish off a week that had already seen them earn a place in the last 32 of the Uefa Cup. "The way it went wasn't right, but I think it galvanised us, and we've kept on. Getting players like Tim Cahill back from injury has helped."
Cahill's resourcefulness, as always, provided Everton with powerful impetus, allied to the wiles of his midfield colleague Mikel Arteta. But the man who applied the cutting edge on a pitch rendered almost liquid with incessant rain, was Yakubu and Moyes is delighted with his big money investment.
"With Yak you know he's always got a goal in him, so you are reluctant to take him off," Moyes said. "We gave him a rest in midweek, but he's on a great run of goals right now. The thing is that with him you are saying 'we have a goalscorer'. It's different to being just a striker." Moyes is right – but Yakubu's opening goal five minutes into the second half owed plenty to a misdirected header from central defender Dejan Stefanovic. The clearance went up rather than out, inviting Cahill to send in a shot on the turn which Fulham keeper Antti Niemi could only parry back to Yakubu.
Fulham's manager Lawrie Sanchez felt the goal was offside, but his side might have drawn level within a minute from their best effort. Everton keeper Tim Howard, however, proved just equal to Danny Murphy's fierce low drive.
Everton doubled their lead just after the hour with a corner routine as Phil Jagielka – a 23rd minute substitute for the hamstrung Leighton Baines – nodded on Arteta's corner at the near post, and Yakubu headed it in.
After Arteta had missed an open goal following a lay-off from Yakubu, the latter sealed victory in the 79th minute when he accepted a through ball from Steven Pienaar, turned inside Stefanovic and picked his spot inside the post.
Fulham remain without a League win at Everton in 20 attempts, and without an away league win in 25 matches. No wonder Sanchez looked so grumpy when asked to try and account for his side's deficiencies away from home.
Goals: Yakubu (51) 1-0; Yakubu (61) 2-0; Yakubu (79) 3-0.
Everton (4-1-4-1): Howard; Neville, Lescott, Yobo, Baines (Jagielka, 23min); Carsley; Arteta, Osman, Cahill (Johnson, 82), Pienaar; Yakubu (McFadden, 82). Substitues not used: Wessels (gk), Anichebe.
Fulham:(4-4-2): Niemi; Omozusi, Hughes, Stefanovic, Konchesky; Davies, Davis, Murphy (Ki-Hyeon, 74), Kamara; Kuqi, Dempsey (Healy, 64). Substitues not used: Warner (gk), Bocanegra, Baird.
Referee: Steve Bennett (Kent)
Booked: Fulham: Kamara.
Man of the match: Yakubu