Arouna Kone scored a hat-trick as Everton survived squandering a two-goal lead to thrash Sunderland 6-2 in the Premier League at Goodison Park.
After a promising start by Sunderland, goals from Gerard Deulofeu and Kone looked to have put Everton in charge, but Jermain Defoe on the stroke of half-time before Steven Fletcher headed home within five minutes of the restart to get Sam Allardyce’s side back on level terms.
However, a Sebastian Coates own goal and another from Romelu Lukaku, also within the space of five minutes, had restored Everton’s two-goal advantage by the hour mark, with Kone grabbing his second of the game after only another two minutes to make it 5-2.
Kone then completed his hat-trick in the 76th minute to complete a miserable afternoon for Sunderland as Everton racked up their biggest Premier League win in eight years.
Kone, whose partnership with fellow goalscorer Romelu Lukaku continues to flourish, will claim the headlines, but the influence of Deulofeu was a key component in only their second home league win of the season.
It was somewhat fitting the 21-year-old, signed from Barcelona in the summer after a previous loan spell at the club, was the focal point as Everton recorded their highest win under manager Roberto Martinez, a fellow Catalan, and their best since beating the Black Cats 7-1 in November 2007.
Deulofeu opened the scoring and provided two assists before being withdrawn to a standing ovation just past the hour, while Kone remained to take the plaudits and the match ball at the final whistle after taking his tally to five goals in six league starts.
Everton had won only once and managed just six goals in their previous five Premier League matches at Goodison this season but took full advantage of obliging and ill-disciplined opponents, who actually began the brightest with Patrick Van Aanholt smashing a shot against the post in the fourth minute.
In the same attack Defoe was denied by the legs of Tim Howard, Adam Johnson hit the post and Fletcher’s rebound was blocked by Seamus Coleman and that provided the wake-up call the hosts needed.
Kone’s delightful flicked pass through Sunderland’s newly-installed three centre-back formation allowed Deulofeu to fire through the legs of both backtracking defender Billy Jones and goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon for his first league goal since returning to the club.
Kone, who turns 32 in less than a fortnight and is out of contract at the end of the season, scored his first with a fierce left-footed shot which took Pantilimon by surprise.
Defoe’s volley in first half added time was soon followed by Fletcher’s close-range header to level things up before Deulofeu came to the fore again as his cross was turned in by former Liverpool defender Coates, under pressure from Lukaku who finally managed to get his goal six minutes later when another perfect pass from the Catalan.
Two more completed Kone’s hat-trick as Sunderland completely fell apart, underlining the extent of the task Allardyce has to save them this season.
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