Liverpool (AFP) – Dominic Calvert-Lewin notched his first Premier League goal and unsettled star Romelu Lukaku bagged a brace in Everton’s 4-0 thrashing of 10-man Hull on Saturday.
With Kevin Mirallas in Belgium for the birth of his child, Calvert-Lewin made his second league start this season and the 20-year-old took full advantage with the opening goal in the first half at Goodison Park.
Hull midfielder Tom Huddlestone was controversially sent off for a foul on Idrissa Gueye in the second half and Everton ran riot in the closing stages.
Enner Valencia got the second and Lukaku struck twice in stoppage-time to lift the Toffees above Manchester United into sixth place.
Having rejected the most lucrative contract offer in Everton’s history, worth a reported £140,000-per-week, Lukaku this week admitted the club’s failure to compete for major trophies and attract top players was likely to convince him to leave.
Ronald Koeman had gone public with his frustration at Lukaku’s comments, but pragmatism won the day as the manager named his rebellious forward in the starting line-up.
Lukaku reminded potential suitors of his class as his 20th and 21st goals of the season took him above Tottenham’s Harry Kane in the race to finish as the Premier League top scorer and made him the first Everton player to score 20 or more league goals since Gary Lineker in 1985-86.
After a sixth successive home league win, Koeman’s side are behind fifth placed Arsenal only on goal difference, although United would reclaim sixth with a win at Middlesbrough on Sunday.
Hull remain in the relegation zone and Marco Silva’s team are three points from safety with nine games left to beat the drop.
Lukaku, who still has two years to run on his contract, retained the backing of Everton’s supporters, who loudly cheered his name before kick-off.
If Lukaku does get his wish to join a bigger club, it could be Everton’s emerging young talents who fill his boots and Calvert-Lewin underlined his promise in the ninth minute.
Keeping his composure impressively, he struck with a close-range finish after fellow youngster Tom Davies unhinged the Hull defence with a precise cross.
Everton suffered a setback when midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin was forced off with an injury in the 30th minute.
Sam Clucas should have equalised late in the first half when Ashley Williams’ header back to Joel Robles fell short of the goalkeeper, but the Hull midfielder’s weak effort drifted over.
Huddlestone was dismissed in the 73rd minute when referee Paul Tierney ruled his lunge on Lukaku was worthy of a straight red card.
Valencia came off the bench in the 77th minute and 60 seconds later he killed off Hull with a fine finish from Lukaku’s pass.
Returning the favour, Valencia set up Lukaku for Everton’s third in the 90th minute and there was still time for the Belgian to strike again after woeful Hull defending gifted him a tap-in.
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