by Jordan A Jones
FORMER Swansea City midfielder Gylfi Sigurðsson scored twice on his return to South Wales, as his Everton side took all three points against Cardiff City.
His brace helped get Everton back to winning ways after three straight defeats and added to Cardiff’s Premier League survival worries.
Sigurðsson continued Everton’s unbeaten record in the league against the Bluebirds, keeping them winless against the Liverpool-based side since 1956. Dominic Calvert-Lewin was also on target in stoppage time to put Cardiff further to the sword.
Everton hadn’t played a game for 17 days and went into this one fresh, whilst Cardiff suffered a heavy defeat to Watford four days ago.
The Toffees took the points in a game which they dominated. Cardiff were uncreative throughout the match, leaving Jordan Pickford unchallenged for most of it.
Callum Paterson, Harry Arter and Josh Murphy all dropped to the bench, whilst Joe Ralls missed out completely and Oumar Niasse was ineligible. In came Bobby Decordova-Reid, Kenneth Zohore and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing in their place.
Captain Sean Morrison, who was making his second start since returning from injury, began shakily and was booked for a rash challenge on Calvert-Lewin.
Theo Walcott tested the home defence by firing just wide of the post after a corner kick wasn’t cleared by Cardiff’s defence. He went close again after Sigurðsson played a ball over the top through to him.
Cardiff tested Everton slightly as Aron Gunnarsson fed in Kenneth Zohore, who fired over from a tight angle, but that was their only real chance of the half.
Sigurðsson broke the deadlock for the Toffees towards the end of an uncreative first-half. Seamus Coleman broke down the line and fed the Icelandic international who rolled the ball home past Neil Etheridge after creating space for himself.
Cardiff were finding it hard to offer any threat to Everton as play resumed for the second half. Zohore went on his trademark channel runs but Pickford wasn’t challenged.
Sigurðsson doubled Everton’s advantage after thumping an effort past Etheridge. The Cardiff keeper had parried substitute Bernard’s low cross into his path.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin almost fired the visitors further ahead but his driven effort sailed just past the post.
The Bluebirds attack was summed up when Aron Gunnarsson’s shot went for a throw-in, rather than a goal kick. Cardiff finished the game with no shots on target.
Everton continued to press for a third goal. Sigurðsson played the ball through to Coleman and his pass found Lookman, but Sol Bamba was in the way of the substitute’s shot.
Sigurðsson was later replaced by Andre Gomes, receiving rapturous applause from the travelling supporters, whilst boos rang out for the 29-year-old due to his Swansea City connections.
In the closing seconds of stoppage time, Idrissa Gueye played a killer ball through to Calvert-Lewin who ripped an effort past Etheridge to complete the rout.
Cardiff City: Etheridge, Bennett, Morrison (C), Ecuele Manga, Zohore (Ward 80′), Decordova-Reid, Bacuna, Gunnarsson, Mendez-Laing (Paterson 67′), Hoilett (Murphy 67′)
Everton: Pickford, Keane, Jagielka (C), Sigurdsson (Gomes 87′), Walcott (Lookman 81′), Digne, Gueye, Schneiderlin, Coleman, Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison (Bernard 60′)
- Goals – Sigurðsson (40′, 66′), Calvert-Lewin (93′)
- Yellow cards – Bacuna (6′), Morrison (13′), Digne (47′), Murphy (80′)