There is a stark contrast to frustration and anguish which surrounded Goodison Park during the reign of Roberto Martinez towards the end of last campaign. Suddenly last season’s underachieving 11th place finish seems like a distant memory and an assault on the top four this time around doesn’t look out of the question.
The hosts were good value for their victory here, after falling behind to a controversial own goal from Maarten Stekelenburg, when the Everton keeper appeared to be fouled by Alvaro Negredo on 21 minutes.
It didn’t take long for Koeman’s men to respond and after Gareth Barry, on his 600th Premier League appearance, drew the hosts level, goals from Seamus Coleman and Romelu Lukaku sealed the victory before half time.
Boro look light upfront
Boro, who suffered their first defeat of the season to Crystal Palace last weekend, appeared toothless in attack and rarely threatened Stekelenburg after the Dutchman’s early mishap.
Aitor Karanka’s formula of nicking an early goal and keeping it tight at the back may have worked wonders in the Championship, however the Premier League is far less forgiving.
As a former defender, Karanka won’t have been encouraged by the goals that his side conceded here, their backline has now been breached five in their last two games and cracks are beginning to appear following a decent start.
Still their traveling fans, who were in good voice once again, would have taken this position when they were battling in the Championship last campaign. Realistically a trip to an in-form Everton side was always going to be a tough task.
Karanka made three changes from the side with lost at home to Palace last weekend, as Marten De Roon, Gaston Ramirez and Emilio Nsue all returned to the side.
Early on Boro were able to contain their rampant hosts, who impressed in their 3-0 victory over Sunderland on Monday night, and even took the lead mid-way through the first half.
Controversy surrounds opening goal
George Friend’s cross from the left seemed to be going straight into the hands of Stekelenburg, who was challenged by potent figure of Negredo.
The Boro striker only had eyes for the ball but appeared to foul the goalkeeper and cause the Dutchman to drop the ball into his own net. Despite protests from the home fans and players, referee Lee Mason allowed the goal to stand.
The sense of injustice didn’t last long and moments later Everton won a corner which Ashley Williams, who could also have been penalised for a foul Boro keeper Victor Valdes, flicked the ball on for Barry to convert.
Everton run out comfortable winners
From there Everton took control and they quickly began to monopolise possession. On 42 minutes they claimed their reward when a neat one-two between Coleman and Lukaku inside the Boro penalty area resulted in the latter side-footing the ball past Valdes.
Boro were dealt another blow on the stroke of half time when Yannick Bolasie’s in-swinging cross from the right was poked home by Lukaku, who registered his fourth goal in the space of a week.
Karanka introduced David Nugent and Viktor Fischer after the break but Everton’s compact defence rarely looked like cracking.
Koeman’s side have now picked up 13 points out of a possible 15 and their manager’s influence is clear to see.