Brighton piled the pressure on Everton manager Frank Lampard with an emphatic victory at Goodison Park.
Kaoru Mitoma gave the Seagulls the lead with a composed finish after Moises Caicedo picked out the Japan winger on the edge of the penalty area.
The Toffees, who were fortunate not to fall further behind when teenager Evan Ferguson struck the outside of the post, were booed off at half-time.
But they fell apart completely after the restart as Brighton scored three goals in a remarkable six-minute spell early in the second half.
Ferguson, making his full Premier League debut, sidefooted Jeremy Sarmiento’s low cross into the top corner before turning provider for Solly March to drill home the Seagulls’ third.
Idrissa Gueye’s atrocious backpass was then easily intercepted by Pascal Gross, who coolly beat Jordan Pickford with a chipped finish.
Demarai Gray converted a late penalty for Everton, but it was nothing more than a consolation on a miserable evening for the hosts and their supporters.
The final whistle was greeted by more boos from the home fans, who have seen their team win only one of their past 10 top-flight games.
Everton could drop into the Premier League’s bottom three on Wednesday if other results go against them, while Brighton moves back up to eighth.
Lampard had called on his Everton players to show the same work ethic and desire that earned them an impressive point at Manchester City on New Year’s Eve, but they were comfortably second best in the first half at Goodison Park before folding feebly in the second.
The Toffees started the game on the front foot, Alex Iwobi forcing a fine one-handed save out of Robert Sanchez before Tom Davies shot straight at the Brighton goalkeeper from range.
But the hosts failed to heed the warning signs when Mitoma headed wide from an excellent position at the other end, then soon fell behind when the 25-year-old cut inside Conor Coady and calmly fired past Pickford.
If Everton fans were hoping for an improved second-half showing they were left bitterly disappointed as Ferguson, March and Gross proceeded to rub salt into their wounds.
The visitors could have won by an even greater margin but took their foot off the gas after Gross’ fourth, while Gray’s stoppage-time penalty was greeted only by a smattering of half-hearted cheers from the Everton supporters who had opted against leaving the ground early.
Chants of “sack the board” were heard at full-time as Lampard’s side remain in a perilous position just above the bottom three.
Newly crowned world champion Alexis Mac Allister was only fit enough for a place on the bench at Goodison Park, with Brighton boss Roberto de Zerbi saying the decision not to start the Argentina midfielder was “best for his condition”.
But Caicedo – who missed the 4-2 home defeat by Arsenal through suspension – produced a dominant display in midfield as the visitors bounced back from Saturday’s loss in style.
Mitoma was a constant threat down Everton’s right, while Ferguson – who netted against the Gunners – capped another mature display with a finely taken goal to double the visitors’ lead.
The 18-year-old Irishman is the youngest player to score in consecutive top-flight games since Federico Macheda for Manchester United in 2009.
Victory at home to Liverpool in their next Premier League game on 14 January would lift the Seagulls above Jurgen Klopp’s side in the table.
source – BBC