Everton shoot five past Hull
Mikel Arteta struck twice as Everton kept their European push alive with a crushing win over Barclays Premier League strugglers Hull this afternoon. The Spaniard found the net either side of a sublime Tom Cairney equaliser to spare the blushes of profligate striker Ayegbeni Yakubu in the first half at Goodison Park.
The Nigerian hit the post and missed a penalty but it ultimately mattered little as Everton overran their visitors in the second half. Richard Garcia headed an Arteta cross into his own net and substitutes Landon Donovan, making the final home appearance of his loan spell from Los Angeles Galaxy, and Jack Rodwell completing the rout.
After the match Everton coach David Moyes was convinced his team had scored six and had to be corrected in his post-match press conference. "I thought the players played really well and to score six was very good," he said. Moyes then joked about how a radio reporter had told him the team only scored five goals. "I'm sure it was six. I'm delusional," he said.
Hull, who remain in the bottom three, struggled to live with the Merseysiders for most of the game. Midfield talisman Jimmy Bullard, returning after a three-month lay-off, failed to make an impact and the absences of Anthony Gardner and Andy Dawson weakened their defence considerably.
Everton, in recording a club record-equalling sixth successive Premier League home win, were simply stronger in all departments. Were it not for Yakubu having a personal nightmare in front of goal, the damage could have been much worse. Moyes was full of praise for Arteta after the win.
"He scored two very good goals and played really well all round," said Moyes. "Mikel is still not back to how he was, but I thought today was more like him and shows how much we have missed him over the year. It might take him a while to get his full strength back but he did a lot of good things with the ball."
It might have been different had Garcia taken an early chance after brilliantly controlling a high ball from Nick Barmby, but Tim Howard jumped to block his shot. Everton hit back on the break with Arteta getting a chance to shoot after his poor pass was hit straight back to him by Kevin Kilbane but he sliced wide.
Arteta fired wide again moments later and Amr Zaki did no better at the other end with a scuffed effort. Leon Osman then carved out Yakubu's first clear-cut chance with a superb throughball but the Nigerian, alone up front in place of the injured Louis Saha, hit the post with Boaz Myhill beaten. Yakubu did his best to put that behind him by delivering the deep cross for Arteta's opener after 17 minutes. The former Middlesbrough man found space on the left and picked out Arteta at the far post with precision.
Yakubu's touch deserted him again soon after, however, as he missed from the spot, although Hull could claim the penalty award by referee Lee Mason was harsh in the first place. It came after Hull were caught by Leighton Baines on the left and Yakubu went down as both he and Kamil Zayatte battled to reach his cross. Yakubu was keen to take responsibility from 12 yards but his stop-start run-up was followed by a tame shot and Myhill saved to his right.
Hull made Yakubu pay as highly-rated teenager Cairney levelled superbly after 31 minutes. Barmby's free-kick was headed out by Phil Jagielka - making his first start of the season - and Cairney controlled on his chest before firing a left-footed shot across Howard from 20 yards.
But the scores were not level for long as Victor Anichebe broke down the right and pulled the ball back into the box. Steven Pienaar helped it on its way with a backheel and the inrushing Arteta slotted his second with a well-placed finish.
Everton really turned up the pressure early in the second half. Arteta sensed a chance to claim a hat-trick soon after the restart when Pienaar was brought down by George Boateng but then hit his free-kick into the wall.
Yakubu's hapless afternoon continued as he broke clear to square for Anichebe to tap in only to see the offside flag raised against him. Rodwell, introduced just before half-time for the injured Osman, then saw a shot deflected against the post.
Persistence eventually paid off with a third goal after 51 minutes. Myhill flapped at an Arteta cross under his own crossbar and the unsuspecting Garcia could do little to prevent the ball bouncing off his head and in. Arteta took the congratulations of his team-mates as if he had completed a treble but an own goal was recorded.
Pienaar then laid on a chance for Rodwell after breaking down the right but his shot was deflected wide. The one-way traffic continued as Sylvain Distin broke into the box and shot straight at Myhill. Yakubu endured more torment after combining well with substitute Donovan but then lifting over the bar from in front of goal.
Donovan showed him how to finish by smashing home a superb fourth goal after two Hull defenders failed to clear a Baines cross eight minutes from time. Everton still had time for more as John Heitinga found Donovan out wide and the American pulled back for Rodwell to clip home a fifth.