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Sunderland 0 - 3 Everton: Lukaku Hat Trick Shatters Cats' Spirit

Tonight's fixture against a formidable, new-look Everton side would be the perfect must-win scenario to get our season started. So, naturally, we got battered.

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

With the only new absentee being Steven Pienaar, who picked up a knock just prior to the game, Sunderland were able to field a strong side consisting of Jan Kirchhoff who returned from injury. Didier N'Dong is yet to be considered fully match fit and took a spot on the bench, alongside Bosman signing Mika.

The first threat from the opposition came within the first minute, as Bolasie got the better of Patrick van Aanholt to send the ball in for Romelu Lukaku, but Pickford was quick off the mark to smother the ball from the Belgian's reach.

The early Everton chance seemed to invigorate Sunderland, who would go on to have a lengthy spell of possession. Watmore and Januzaj each gave the aged Everton defence something to think about, but neither could find any real end product until a deflected through ball fell to Defoe - but the veterain striker could only get his shin to the ball and the chance went skyward.

Sunderland faced another scare as Bolasie swung in another telling cross in for Lukaku, only for the Belgian's formidable aerial effort to be thwarted by Jordan Pickford's excellent reactions.

There wasn't much else to say about the first half, other than Watmore being dubiously booked for simulation and a Lynden Gooch cross become inadvertently goalbound.

Everton started off the second half with more intent, and that's how they'd end it too. Bolasie fired at goal and Pickford could only parry it away, luckily enough the ball fell to Sunderland feet and was cleared.

The home side would respond with a very telling Jack Rodwell through ball, but Defoe couldn't escape Ashley Williams and his effort was deflected out for a corner. The resulting corner was swung in to Lamine Kone, whose brace was powerful but straight at Toffees' stopper Maarten Stekelenberg.

This is where the seldom positives end. Wahbi Khazri, almost immediately after being subbed on for Lynden Gooch, feebly loses a 50/50 to Gerard Deulofeu, who orchestrates a resulting counter attack to find Lukaku virtually unmarked in the box as the cross is swung in. He was never going to miss.

Sunderland's fighting spirit would then seemingly evaporate instantly. Eight minutes later, Bolasie proves to be too fast for Javier Manquillo and drifts a cross to the far post for - once again - an unmarked Lukaku.

Fast forward four minutes, and Everton get their third and Lukaku gets his hat-trick. The big Belgian is send through the middle as both the Sunderland defence and midfield completely crumble.

Everton were happy to run the clock down for the remainder of a dreary second half. For them, it's a solid away performance that propellers an already successful start to the season. For us? Quite literally the opposite.

Despite a decent enough first half, all it took was one goal from the opposition to drain us of all passion and fighting spirit - when we weren't even overly threatening in the first place.

All in all, this was a bad performance.

Sunderland 0 - 3 Everton

Sunderland: Pickford, van Aanholt, L. Kone, Djilobodji, Manquillo, Rodwell, Kirchhoff, Gooch, Watmore, Januzaj, Defoe, Khazri (for Gooch 56'), N'Dong (for Watmore 72'), Denayer (for Kirchhoff 75')

Everton: Stekelenburg, Coleman, Jagielka, Williams, Baines, Gueye, Barry, Bolasie, Barkley, Mirallas, Lukaku, Davies (for Bolasie 72'), A. Kone (for Lukaku 89')

Goals: Lukaku (60', 68', 71')