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Rondón double strike sends Everton into FA Cup quarters

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Rondón double strike sends Everton into FA Cup quarters

Everton 2 Boreham Wood 0

There was no seismic upset at Goodison Park but no FA Cup rout or humiliation either. Boreham Wood, bidding to become only the second non-league club to reach the quarter-finals, made life extremely difficult for Everton before Premier League superiority told.

Salomon Rondón struck twice in the second half to take Frank Lampard’s team into a last eight meeting away at Crystal Palace. They will need to improve significantly on this display to reach the semi-finals at Wembley but the night belonged to Luke Garrard and his accomplished side. The Hertfordshire club defended expertly throughout and underlined why they are firmly in pursuit of promotion to the Football League this season.

Everton have been a class act since drawing the non-league side, Garrard had said, with the Premier League club paying for their visitors’ specially commissioned fifth-round kit, taking care of travel arrangements and sorting their accommodation. The same was true of Everton’s moving anti-war statement prior to kick off too.

Ukraine international Vitalii Mykolenko, the club’s January signing from Dynamo Kyiv, was named captain for the night by Lampard. He led out an Everton team draped in Ukraine flags, as were the players of Boreham Wood, and as the teams emerged on to the pitch the traditional pre-match strains of Z-Cars were replaced by John Lennon’s Imagine. Both sets of players gathered behind a blue and yellow banner carrying a hopeful, poignant line from the song. “Imagine all the people, Sharing all the world.” Outside, all MegaFon branding had been removed from the stadium after the suspension of Everton’s sponsorship deals with Russian companies backed by Alisher Usmanov, the oligarch close to the club’s majority shareholder, Farhad Moshiri, and who has been sanctioned by the EU and the UK.

The sombre opening gave way to a fiercely committed display from Boreham Wood and palpable frustration in the Everton ranks as a result. The National League promotion chasers had started their FA Cup story with a 1-0 win at Barnet in the fourth qualifying round on 16 October. Eastleigh, St Albans City, AFC Wimbledon and Bournemouth had also fallen to Garrard’s team en route to a prestigious date at Goodison, where their manager looked genuinely taken aback by the surroundings before kick-off. Garrard took a good look around the entire stadium, opening his arms at the size of the Main Stand looming above him, and accepted well-wishes from Everton’s backroom staff and supporters during the warm-up. But he and his team were not over-awed.

Boreham Wood pressed immediately with a three-man forward line and caused several palpitations in the Gwladys Street end at Everton’s awkward attempts to escape. They were soon forced into a deep block, with a five-man defence closely protected by three in central midfield, and managed to contain their Premier League hosts with some comfort.

Everton’s opening chance fell to Mykolenko, and what a fleeting release it would have been for the Ukrainian had he scored his first goal for the club on his fourth appearance. Receiving Abdoulaye Doucouré’s pass on the left, the 22-year-old connected cleanly with his strike but Taye Ashby-Hammond pushed clear. The Boreham Wood goalkeeper also denied Anthony Gordon’s dipping attempt from the corner of the penalty area but that was the full extent of his workload in the first half. Everton lacked guile to unlock the compact unit in front of them. When the hosts did create space out wide the quality of their deliveries was consistently poor, from the right particularly.

There was a brief stoppage in play as medics attended to a fan who had fallen ill in the Bullens Road Stand. Boreham Wood departed to a raucous ovation from their fans, and Everton to grumbles, when the half-time whistle sounded with the contest goalless moments later.

Lampard had seen enough, and paid the non-league side the compliment of introducing Richarlison alongside Rondón for the second half. The Brazil international replaced Nathan Patterson, who has had to be patient for his debut since arriving from Rangers in January and could count himself unfortunate to be withdrawn. But the decision was tactical, and vindicated when Everton eventually ended the stalemate.

Rondón squandered an excellent chance when Jonjoe Kenny, switched to right back following Patterson’s substitution and Lampard’s move to a 4-4-2, swept an inviting cross over Connor Stevens early in the second half. Rondon, arriving in behind, headed dreadfully over from six yards out.

The Venezuela striker atoned minutes later, however, after more good work by Kenny. Receiving Allan’s pass in space, the full back sent a fine first time cross towards the near post where Rondon held off David Stephens to sweep a finish beyond Ashby-Hammond. Richarlison had a goal disallowed for handball by Var after Adrian Clifton headed Gordon’s cross into the Brazilian’s face, the ball then touching his arm before crossing the line, but Rondon brought Everton the comfort of a second late on. Andros Townsend collected Gordon’s short corner and floated a cross to the far post where the centre-forward powered a header beyond Ashby-Hammond, the ball crossing the line before the keeper clawed it away.

– Guardian

FA Cup Quarter-Finals draw:

Crystal Palace v Everton

Nottingham Forest or Huddersfield Town v Liverpool

Middlesbrough v Chelsea

Southampton v Manchester City

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