There was a cold-eyed stare at Jordan Pickford when Fleetwood were briefly allowed to threaten Everton’s progression but otherwise this was another encouraging step for Carlo Ancelotti. Confidence is growing along with the options available to the Everton manager, and a fourth consecutive victory was rarely in doubt despite the England goalkeeper’s unconvincing contribution.
“I am pleased we made it into a cup tie because at half-time it looked like being a long 45 minutes ahead of us,” said Joey Barton, the Fleetwood manager, after his team benefited from two defensive slips and his own tactical switch to disrupt Everton’s dominance in the second half. But the Premier League visitors had too much authority, creativity and quality for the League One side and goals from Richarlison, with his first two of the season, Alex Iwobi, Bernard and the substitute Moise Kean secured a fourth round reunion with David Moyes and West Ham at Goodison Park next week.
Ancelotti fielded a much stronger line-up than for the second round win over Salford although the exclusion of Anthony Gordon was a bigger surprise than the inclusion of Dominic Calvert-Lewin or Richarlison after the 19-year-old’s impressive display last week. Gordon would come on at half-time and create two goals. Another 19-year-old who shone against Salford, Niels Nkounkou, was given another chance to impress from the start and seized the opportunity with a performance of telling crosses, energy, skill and a delightful back-heeled assist for Kean’s stoppage time goal. Pickford, however, was less impressive.
It was a collective failure that enabled Fleetwood substitute Mark Duffy to reduce the arrears early in the second half but the hosts’ second, an acrobatic overhead kick from Callum Camps, was straight at the Everton keeper but found the net regardless. The Everton of recent years may have wobbled at 3-2. This one promptly regained control and struck again through Bernard and Kean. Ancelotti said: “The first goal was not an individual mistake, we passed the ball back to Jordan and it was a really difficult ball. We could have behaved differently, so we didn’t do that well. We want to build up from the back but when there is no risk. If it is risky it is not good, we can concede a goal like we did tonight and it is a good lesson for the future. Jordan was not the only one.”
Richarlison headed Everton on their way to a second successive 5-2 win from Bernard’s inviting cross. The Brazilian then doubled their advantage with a sharp finish after exchanging passes from the influential Iwobi, who returned the ball into his path with a neat back-heel. Everton were cruising at the interval but gifted Fleetwood a way back by over-elaborating in defence moments after the restart.
Michael Keane put Pickford under pressure with a back pass and the keeper’s attempted clearance was charged down by Josh Morris. The rebound fell perfectly for substitute Duffy in front of an unguarded net.
Iwobi converted Gordon’s cross to restore Everton’s two-goal lead within a minute. Then came Pickford’s failure to stop Camps’ spectacular effort but a fine finish from Bernard, finding the top corner from another Gordon cross, and Kean’s simple tap-in from Nkounkou’s brilliant ball saw Everton safely into the next round.