Toffees finish season with comfortable win.
Everton 3 (2) – (0) 0 Norwich City
Baines 43′ (pen)
Goodison Park (Attendance:36,691)
Everton have ended their 2015/16 season on a high after a comfortbale 3-0 victory over already-relegated Norwich City.
James McCarthy’s vicious strike, Leighton Baines’ penalty and Kevin Mirallas’ sidefoot finish ensured that the Toffees put the Roberto Martinez era behind them with a resounding win at Goodison Park.
The triumph for the home side sees them finish 11th in the Barclays Premier League on 47 points, and Norwich 2nd from bottom in 19th with 34 points.
Everton gave full first-team debuts to youngster Tom Davies and Kieran Dowell, while Tim Howard was handed a start on his final appearance before his move to MLS side Colorado Rapids.
For Norwich, ex-Toffees players John Ruddy and Steven Naismith were given starting berths for the already-relegated Canaries.
It was the rejuvenated Blues, playing in next season’s home kit, who started the brightest – Lukaku seeing his first time effort held by John Ruddy after some impressive high pressing.
Davies and Dowell then combined before the former’s shot was blocked on the edge of the area.
Norwich tasted their first goalmouth action soon after as Ivo Pinto’s low centre from the byline had to be put behind by Phil Jagielka with Cameron Jerome lurking.
Nathan Redmond cut inside from the left flank, darted past Dowell and fired wide of the right hand post as the away outfit looked to assert themselves on proceedings.
Lukaku was denied twice by Ruddy within the space of 10 seconds as the game began to ebb and flow.
And on 19 minutes, the first real flash point of the match occurred.
Graham Dorrans’ right wing cross was met by Jerome, but the striker’s header was comfortably held by Howard.
Immediately Everton’s keeper rolled the ball out to McCarthy, who drove upfield before finding Dowell in space.
The young attacker worked his way to the penalty area, before his pass ricocheted off a Norwich defender into the path of the onrushing McCarthy, whose fizzing first-time strike flew past Ruddy into the net.
Jonjoe Kenny, another youngster off the Everton production line, replaced the injured Matthew Pennington on 30 minutes to make his own first-team debut.
And the full-back’s first action of the game was to prevent a left wing cross from fellow substitute Robbie Brady – his block drawing a ripple of applause form the Goodison faithful.
Kevin Mirallas and Redmond traded shots as half-time approached, before Norwich appeals for a penalty were waved away by referee Lee Mason – Naismith’s low shot having caught Davies on the arm via a deflection off Leighton Baines.
Mason had no hesitation in pointing to the spot moments before the interval, however, after Brady hauled Lukaku back from meeting Gareth Barry’s dinked cross.
And Baines made no mistake from the spot as he calmly stroked home from 12 yards.
Three minutes after half-time and the game was over as a contest.
McCarthy delayed his pass before sliding Kenny in down the right, and the right-back’s low cross rolled all the way through to the back post where Mirallas was on hand to slot home.
Baines fired a long-range free kick high and wide after a foul by Gary O’Neil on Barry, while down the other end Brady drew a fine stop from Howard at the 37-year-old’s near post and Jerome guided a header from a corner over the bar.
Dowell was handed a standing ovation as he was replaced by Ross Barkley with 21 minutes remaining – the young star’s last action of the match almost setting Lukaku up for a certain goal.
Howard then allowed himself a wry smile after a lapse in concentration almost allowed Naismith to nick the ball off his toes before a surging run from Barkley saw the midfielder force a routine save from Ruddy.
The chances began to dry up as time wore on, but substitute Aaron Lennon did manage to curl an effort over the bar with five minutes remaining.
After the game, Everton’s first team squad gave a guard of honour to the departing Howard as Goodison rose as one to applaud his 10-year association with the Toffees, and he thanked Everton’s fans for their unwavering support during his decade of service.
On an afternoon that Everton dominated, the USA international couldn’t have wished for a better send off.