Everton dump Villa out FA Cup
Tim Cahill (Gallo Images)
Liverpool - Everton cruised into the FA Cup quarter-finals for the first time in seven years as goals from Jack Rodwell, Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill clinched a 3-1 win over Aston Villa on Sunday.
An enthralling fifth round tie at Goodison Park had been evenly balanced until Australia midfielder Cahill struck with 15 minutes remaining after Curtis Davies failed to clear a cross from Victor Anichebe.
Villa had been chasing the game from as early as the fourth minute, however and this was manager Martin O'Neill's first taste of defeat on this ground either as a player or manager during his 37 year career.
Rodwell put Everton ahead with his first ever goal for David Moyes's side on four minutes before James Milner equalised three minutes later.
Arteta restored the home side's advantage with a penalty of his own before Cahill put the result beyond doubt as Villa crashed to their first defeat in 12 outings.
Moyes handed Rodwell his first start since November while Dan Gosling, hero of the previous round's replay victory over neighbours Liverpool, was also included from kick off although on-loan forward Jo was suspended and Marouane Fellaini was injured.
Anichebe was also recalled for the first time since his reported training ground dispute with Moyes.
Villa were without the suspended Gareth Barry and England forward Emile Heskey, who picked up a slight knock in the midweek defeat to Spain. Otherwise the visitors were largely at full strength.
The game had to go some to live up to the previous meeting between these two sides, which Villa won 3-2 at Goodison, but it got off to another thunderous start when Everton took the lead inside four minutes.
Arteta's corner was headed goalwards by Cahill but when his effort appeared to be blocked on the line by the hand of Stiliyan Petrov, Rodwell reacted first to smash home the loose ball and provide his side with the perfect start.
Everton's lead lasted just four minutes, however as Villa responded with virtually their first attack of the game.
Petrov released the speedy Gabriel Agbonlahor but when the England international was tripped from behind by the struggling Tony Hibbert referee Martin Atkinson had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Milner drilled his spot kick underneath the unfortunate Tim Howard to notch his fifth goal in eight games and become the first visiting player to score a penalty in the FA Cup at Goodison Park since Bill Shankly in 1946.
The controversy continued in the 23rd minute when Steve Sidwell felled Anichebe with a clumsy challenge to concede the game's second penalty, which Arteta duly converted to restore Everton's lead.
Villa should have been level for the second time on 33 minutes when Ashley Young delivered an inch-perfect cross for the waiting Agbonlahor but he headed wide from just five yards out.
Villa's frustration continued on the hour mark when John Carew appeared destined to equalise with a glancing strike from Milner's cross only to see Howard fling himself to his right and somehow tip the shot wide for a corner.
Cahill headed straight at Friedel on 67 minutes before Sidwell blew his chance to make amends for earlier and salvage a replay for the visitors, heading badly wide with 19 minutes remaining.
It was to prove costly moments later when Cahill made it 3-1 with a clinical finish to leave O'Neill's men dead and buried.