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 and this was manager Martin O’Neill’s first taste of defeat at Goodison either as a player or manager during his 37-year career.
Moyes handed Rodwell his first start since November, while Dan Gosling, hero of the previous round’s replay victory over neighbors Liverpool, was also included from kick-off.
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 toward goal 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 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.
James Milner drilled his spot-kick underneath the unfortunate Tim Howard to 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 a second time on 33 minutes when Ashley Young delivered an inch-perfect cross for the waiting Agbonlahor, but he headed wide from just 5m out.
Villa’s frustration continued when John Carew appeared destined to equalize 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 headed badly wide with 19 minutes remaining. It proved costly moments later when Cahill made it 3-1 with a clinical finish.