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Everton 3-0 Salford City: Instant Reaction - Toffees ease through to next round

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Blues eventually make it past the Ammies in the Second Round of the Carabao Cup

Everton v Salford City - Carabao Cup - Second Round - Goodison Park Photo by Jon Super/PA Images via Getty Images

Everton made heavy weather of it at times, but eventually edged their way past League Two Salford City to reach the third round of the Carabao Cup.

Goals from Michael Keane, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Moise Kean completed the win, though it could and perhaps should have been more.

The Toffees had 32 shots on goal and hit the woodwork five times, as well as having 69% of the possession.

They now head to League One Fleetwood in round three next week, managed by a certain Joey Barton.

Firstly, the selection. Carlo made 10 changes from the side that won at Tottenham on Sunday, with Michael Keane the only survivor.

Everton v Salford City - Carabao Cup Second Round Photo by Peter Powell - Pool/Getty Images

That included debuts for Joao Virginia and Niels Nkounkou, as well as a first Toffees appearance in more than a year for Jonjoe Kenny.

For the others, it was the chance to prove they still have a future at Goodison or put themselves in the shop window, with distinctly mixed results.

What you need in these sort of fixtures against lower league opposition is an early goal, which Everton got after just nine minutes. Sigurdsson’s corner found Keane, who powered the ball into the net.

They then suffered a huge blow when Jarrad Branthwaite went over on his ankle and had to be substituted. With Mason Holgate also sidelined, Everton’s centre-back options are perilously thin, with reinforcements now certainly required before next month’s deadline.

Everton v Salford City - Carabao Cup Second Round Photo by Peter Powell - Pool/Getty Images

Bernard came closest to doubling the advantage just before the break, but his curling effort was well tipped behind by Vaclav Hladky.

Kean spurned another chance early in the second half and Salford slowly began to edge their way back into the game, though they rarely troubled the Everton goal.

Bernard fired wide from well-placed while Sigurdsson saw an effort saved as Everton sought the second that would kill the tie. They eventually found it with 16 minutes left when Nkounkou combined with Gordon to set up Sigurdsson, who sidefooted home from inside the area.

The rest of the game was pretty much a procession, with Gordon nearly scoring a spectacular first Toffees goal only to see his curling effort from outside the area hit the outside of the post.

Sigurdsson also hit the post with a low effort, while Kean saw two headers strike the woodwork, with Gordon also seeing his effort on the rebound come off the bar.

They eventually got the third goal with three minutes left when Gordon was fouled in the area, with Kean calmly stepping up to convert the spot-kick.

The huge plus was Nkounkou, who looks to be a real find. The 19-year-old was initially signed to play with the U23s this season but on this display he looks to be a capable back up to Lucas Digne.

Is he the type of player Marcel Brands was recruited to find?

Gordon also improved as the game wore on and was desperately unlucky not to score his first Everton goal. He and Nkounkou already look to have stuck up a Bainaar-esque understanding down the left and could add real depth to that flank

Keane was solid at the back, though losing Branthwaite was a blow and leaves the team short of numbers in that position.

Kenny did ok on his Toffees return, while Sigurdsson, despite his detractors, came up with a goal and assist.

On the flip side, Theo Walcott and Tom Davies did little to suggest the faults in their game have been eradicated. Kean also struggled at times with just the basics, though you’d hope his goal will at least give him a bit of confidence.

FBL-ENG-LCUP-EVERTON-SALFORD Photo by PETER POWELL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

But, given the lack of pre-season, this has to go down as a good workout for the squad players, with Carlo able to go the whole game without making a substitution (well almost, not counting the Branthwaite injury).

Whether they have done enough to challenge the first XI remains to be seen, with more than a handful facing an exit before next month’s deadline.

But at least it is job done and a potential banana skin avoided, with West Brom awaiting in the Premier League on Saturday.