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Former Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku struck both goals in a 2-0 FA Cup quarter-final triumph for Everton over Guus Hiddink’s side.
The Londoners, who will finish the season without a trophy, had the better of a relatively uneventful first period at Goodison Park, going closest just prior to the break through a free-kick from Willian that Joel Robles turned over the crossbar.
Everton improved drastically in the second period, moving ahead with 13 minutes remaining through a fabulous Lukaku effort, which was almost all of the Belgian’s own making.
Lukaku quickly doubled the hosts’ advantage and effectively sealed victory by firing right-footed through the legs of Thibaut Courtois.
Both Chelsea’s Diego Costa and Everton’s Gareth Barry were sent off by referee Michael Oliver late on.
The result on Merseyside ensures that there will be no silver lining to the West London giants’ dreadful campaign, with a bizarrely poor title defence confounded by a relatively early League Cup exit, Champions League misery administered by Paris Saint Paris Saint-Germain, and now FA Cup disappointment.
The Toffees and Roberto Martinez continue their push to end a season of hitherto underachievement on a massive high, thanks to a strong performance on Saturday evening.
Tom Cleverley and Kenedy exchanged missed half-chances early in a feisty first half that saw Everton apparently bent on winding up, or simply unsettling, visiting striker Costa.
The Pensioners were the commanding side during the first 45 minutes, although Cleverley forced Courtois into a comfortable save on the stroke of the interval.
From a Cleverley corner, Ramiro Funes Mori had a good opportunity to break the deadlock a few minutes into the second half, but the defender’s header was aimed too high.
Costa almost punished the Toffees in a damaging manner, rolling an attempt across the face of the Everton goal after taking a Cesc Fabregas pass away from Robles.
The hosts survived to hit the front through Lukaku, who collected a pass out wide from Barkley, burst superbly through and past several attempted challenges, and finished neatly from six yards.
Barkley was again the provider five minutes later, as Lukaku managed to avoid being flagged for offside and drove a right-footed strike under the advancing Courtois.
With the game all but up, Costa was dismissed for reacting poorly to a Barry tackle, having earlier been booked for an awkward, aggressive challenge on the former Manchester City midfielder.
Barry, shown yellow for his part in the incident that saw Costa sent off, also received a red card when he needlessly chopped down Fabregas, ensuring his absence from Everton’s Premier League clash with title-chasing Arsenal at Goodison next week.
However, it will be the cup, rather than the league, that will be most on Evertonians’ minds as the campaign draws towards a close.
Without a trophy in 21 years, the Toffees’ supporters have been starved of success, but their stars are now just two wins away from delivering that long overdue silverware.
By David Maher