Hayley Raso grabbed her first Everton hat-trick as she inspired Everton to a commanding 5-0 WSL victory over Brighton on the south coast.
The Australian earned a penalty in the first half when she was tripped, and Izzy Christiansen scored from 12 yards to put the wheels in motion for a dominating performance from Willie Kirk’s side.
Raso extended the Everton advantage just two minutes later with a spectacular solo run, and the midfielder grabbed her second of the game minutes after the restart with a close-range header.
Simone Magill netted her second goal in three games on the hour mark and Raso capped off her fine individual performance when she tapped home from close range with 10 minutes remaining to clinch the match ball.
The victory all but cements fifth place for Everton as they extended the gap between themselves and the sixth-placed Seagulls to seven points.
The Blues came close to opening the scoring 15 minutes in when Claire Emslie set off on a blistering run from inside her own half, her pull-back found Raso at the far post, but the Australian’s effort was blocked by desperate Brighton defending.
Everton were awarded a penalty midway inside the first half thanks to Raso’s relentless pressure on the Seagulls’ backline. She forced a mix-up from a long ball and Maya Le Tissier was adjudged to have tripped the midfielder.
Stand-in skipper Christiansen made no mistake from 12 yards as she confidently dispatched the spot-kick into the bottom corner for her fifth goal of the season.
The visitors piled more misery on the in-form team in the WSL when they extended their advantage two minutes later.
Raso was instrumental once again, this time with a fine individual goal. She set off into the Brighton penalty area before slaloming her way through a wall of Blue shirts, finishing the wonderful solo run off with a well-placed finish through the legs of two Brighton defenders.
Brighton nearly took their chance to seize on a defensive error when Tinja-Riikka Korpela failed to gather a corner – although it looked like she was fouled in the process – with the Blues fortunate to clear their lines and maintain the two-goal advantage at the break.
The home side started the second half with another defensive error, Le-Tissier’s stray pass gifting Emslie an opportunity to cross. A generous deflection looped the ball over Megan Walsh’s head in the Brighton goal and Raso was there to head the ball in from close range and grab her second of the game.
The Blues were relentless with their attacking play and they enforced another defensive mistake on the hour mark. Christiansen whipped in a free-kick from deep and the Seagulls were guilty once again of failing to clear their lines.
Magill nipped in to finish the loose ball from close range inflicting further punishment on Hope Powell’s side.
Raso clinched the match ball with 10 minutes remaining thanks to a clever assist from Nicoline Sorensen. The Dane’s pullback fell to Raso thanks to a slight nick off a Brighton leg and she finished from close range with a well-placed effort.
Ex-Toffee Aileen Whelan nearly grabbed a consolation for her side with minutes remaining, but her thunderous strike clattered off the crossbar to sum up a forgettable day for the Seagulls but one which proved the class throughout this Everton side.
The Blues return to action next Sunday when Aston Villa visit Walton Park Hall in the WSL (1pm kick-off).