Toffees third after victory over Villa
Everton confirmed their early season promise as they cruised to a 3-1 victory over 10-man Aston Villa at Villa Park - and on this evidence Paul Lambert's side will face a Barclays Premier League relegation battle.
First-half goals from Steven Pienaar, Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic demonstrated the visitors' superiority as they followed up their victory over Manchester United in emphatic style.
Karim El Ahmadi scored a consolation effort but, to add to Villa's misery, defender Ciaran Clark was sent off after 58 minutes for a professional foul in what was a first home game to forget for former Norwich boss Lambert.
The Midlands club were carved open at will by the Merseysiders who could have easily doubled their final tally but for poor finishing. Of equal concern to Lambert will have been Villa's lack of creativity and Everton keeper Tim Howard was not called upon to make a worthy save until his error gifted El Ahmadi his goal.
Everton needed only three minutes to silence the home fans who had given a rousing reception to Lambert with a superb strike from Pienaar. Steven Naismith, who was making his full debut for the Toffees, laid the ball back into the path of the South African who curled a 20 yarder past Shay Given into the top corner of the net.
An error by keeper Given gifted Fellaini his second goal in two games after 31 minutes to double Everton's lead. Phil Jagielka floated over a hopeful right-wing cross which the Belgian attacked but his header looked to be covered by Given. But he allowed the ball to wriggle from his grasp and over the line.
It came as no surprise when Jelavic made it 3-0 a minute before half-time. Leighton Baines delivered a left-wing cross and no-one picked up the striker as he drilled a near post shot past Given.
After the re-start, Pienaar twice carved out opportunities for Naismith and Jelavic and only fierce blocks from Nathan Baker on both occasions prevented Everton increasing their lead.
Villa did get score a consolation and it came out of the blue when a swerving long range effort from El Ahmadi deceived Howard who could only parry the ball into the net with 15 minutes remaining.
Villa substitute Andreas Weimann hit a post in time added on but a second goal would have given a flattering look to the final score.