Richarlison opened his account for the campaign as Everton saw off Fleetwood Town in an EFL Cup win that should have been far more comfortable but for two errors in goal from Jordan Pickford.
Following a shaky 2019-20, England’s number one’s jitters returned at Highbury Stadium as he conceded a pair of terribly preventable strikes to leave a glaring blot on an otherwise commanding showing from Everton.
Everton had led 2-0 at the break after cruising through the first half, as Richarlison headed home Bernard’s sumptuous cross midway through the opening period, before slamming past Alex Cairns after a beautiful one-two with Alex Iwobi soon after.
But twice Fleetwood halved their lead either side of an Iwobi tap-in after Pickford threatened to undermine Everton’s dominance.
First he dithered on an admittedly dangerous back-pass from Michael Keane, before being dispossessed in his six-yard box and allowing Mark Duffy to fire into an empty net in the early stages of the second period.
Not the start to the second-half that Jordan Pickford would have wanted...— Sky Sports (@SkySports) September 23, 2020
It's a howler from the Everton 'keeper! pic.twitter.com/NAsTabenCY
And after half-time substitute Anthony Gordon had squared for Iwobi to immediately restore Everton’s two-goal lead, Pickford was caught in no-man’s land while attempting to smother a Fleetwood cross, before Callum Camps’ speculative close-rang overhead kick slipped through his grasp and into the net.
Pickford’s mistakes would not prove terminal, as Gordon later turned provider again; this time for Bernard. Far more influential centrally here than out wide, the Brazilian found Gordon’s deflected cross fall perfectly into his path before rifling a half-volley past the despairing Cairns.
Niels Nkounkou then rounded off another stand-out showing at left-back by setting up Moise Kean to tap in for Everton’s fifth in added time.
Carlo Ancelotti made six changes to the side which eventually swept aside West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, and will largely be satisfied by the way Everton equipped themselves against Joey Barton’s Fleetwood.
Nkounkou again shone at left-back, delivering countless piercing crosses, while Richarlison rediscovered his prolific touch and Bernard and Gordon made another case for greater involvement in the Premier League.
But a tie which Everton had such a firm stranglehold on at half-time was made needlessly turbulent by Pickford, whose position must surely now come under even greater scrutiny.
Everton will now host West Ham United in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup next week.