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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 April, 2005, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Everton 4-0 Crystal Palace
Mikel Arteta celebrates his goal for Everton
Everton moved four points clear of Liverpool in the race for the fourth Champions League spot by thrashing Crystal Palace at Goodison.

Mikel Arteta's early free-kick and two second-half strikes from Tim Cahill put the Toffees in command.

Debutant James Vaughan, 16, hit the fourth to become Everton's - and the Premiership's - youngest-ever scorer.

Sandor Torghelle and Wayne Routledge both went close for Palace but they remain two points adrift of safety.

Everton, keenly aware of the opportunity offered by Liverpool's defeat at Manchester City on Saturday, started brightly on a sun-lit afternoon.

Kevin Kilbane fired an early 20-yarder over before the hosts took the lead in the eighth minute when Palace keeper Gabor Kiraly handled a long punt from Nigel Martyn outside his box.

Having been shown a yellow card, rather than a red, Kiraly retreated to his line, only to see Arteta curl a superb free-kick over the wall and past his dive into the top left-hand corner.

Despite that early setback, Palace looked the more dangerous attacking side for much of the opening period.

Michael Hughes saw a 25-yarder tipped round a post by Martyn, while Tony Hibbert and Alan Stubbs had to respond swiftly to snuff out dangerous counters.

Crystal Palace's Fitz Hall and Everton's Duncan Ferguson challenge for the ball
Fitz Hall (left) contests a header with Duncan Ferguson
Stubbs intervened again after a weaving run from Palace winger Routledge, before the defender was forced off with an arm injury and replaced by Steve Watson.

Everton could have been out of sight by half-time but missed two wonderful chances to increase their lead before the interval.

Duncan Ferguson, making his first league start for four months, seemed certain to score from Marcus Bent's pin-point cross, but Kiraly stuck out his left leg to deny him.

The Scot was slow to react to another chance moments later, before Leon Osman headed over with Kiraly on the ground and an empty net gaping.

But Everton wrapped up victory with two excellent goals within nine minutes of the second half.

First Bent hooked a poor Palace clearance back into the box where Cahill controlled it before lashing home a right-foot volley into the roof of the net.

Then, in the 54th minute, a driving run down the left from Kilbane took him past two defenders into the box, where he picked out Cahill at the far post for a clinical header.

Palace boss Iain Dowie immediately made a double substitution, sending on Hungarian striker Sandor Torghelle and Ben Watson.

Torghelle almost produced a goal but his shot struck a post, and Routledge should have done better from Andy Johnson's cut-back but sliced his effort wide.

Everton boss David Moyes took the opportunity to send on Vaughan, who became the club's youngest post-war player, beating Joe Royle's record by 12 days.

Vaughan scuffed his first chance but sealed a memorable debut when he prodded home three minutes from time after great approach work from Kilbane and Osman.

  • Everton assistant manager Alan Irvine:
    "We haven't scored four this season so it was terrific for us. But the most important thing was to get a win.

    "They had their two best chances at 3-0 and if they had got those it could have been a different end to the game.

    "But we have to continue to do our job now and hopefully get the rewards our performances this season deserve."

  • Crystal Palace manager Iain Dowie:
    "We have wronged our supporters today and that was nowhere near what we expect at this club.

    "I thought it was a very even game in the first half but the second half was bitterly disappointing.

    "I expect a response in training and there is no point in feeling sorry for ourselves. We have to stay together and show real heart and soul next week."

    Everton: Martyn, Hibbert, Stubbs (Watson 26), Weir, Naysmith (Vaughan 74), Osman, Arteta, Cahill, Kilbane, Ferguson, Bent (Carsley 67).
    Subs Not Used: Wright, McFadden.

    Booked: Hibbert.

    Goals: Arteta 7, Cahill 47, 54, Vaughan 87.

    Crystal Palace: Kiraly, Leigertwood, Hall, Powell, Granville, Riihilahti (Watson 57), Routledge, Hughes, Soares, Lakis (Torghelle 57), Johnson.
    Subs Not Used: Speroni, Hudson, Borrowdale.

    Booked: Kiraly.

    Att: 36,519

    Ref: U Rennie (S Yorkshire)

    Interview: Everton assistant manager Alan Irvine

    Interview: Crystal Palace manager Iain Dowie

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