Everton cruised past Stevenage to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup with an easy 4-0 win, but their triumph was more than a little bit muted by a severe injury to Costa Rica international Bryan Oviedo, who was forced to hospital with a suspected broken leg midway through the first half.
Stevenage started strongly, and Lucas Akins could easily have opened the scoring inside three minutes when he took advantage of John Stones' error to line up a shot only for the young centre back to get to his feet and launch himself into a heroic block to keep the match scoreless. It didn't stay that way for long.
Chris Day managed to parry away the Toffees' immediate reply, a thumping drive from outside the box off the boot of Kevin Mirallas, but the resultant scramble eventually fell for Steven Naismith. The striker, playing in the absence of the rested Romelu Lukaku, made the most of his chance, slamming into the roof of the net to give Everton a fifth-minute lead.
But disaster struck soon after. The pitch, waterlogged after a downpour, went out under Bryan Oviedo as he was tracking back, and the Costa Rican went down immediately with what looked like a very badly broken leg. Six minutes of medical care followed before he was stretchered off and replaced by Leon Osman, and it took the Toffees ten minutes to get their minds back onto the match.
But as soon as they shook off the horror of seeing their teammate go down, they struck again. Osman played a through ball which Jon Ashton couldn't deal with, allowing Naismith to go one on one with Day before poking underneath the helpless goalkeeper.
Everton made it three just after the break. Mirallas rescued a mis-hit cross with a stunning overhead kick to the back post, John Heitenga met it with a thumping header, and Akins' attempted intervention merely served to deflect the effort past Day.
Naismith had a chance to complete his hattrick as the game drew to an inexorable close, but fluffed his lines when through on goal. It didn't matter -- minutes later Magaye Gueye grabbed the visitors a fourth when he slotted in from eight yards following Osman's pass.
Stevenage had a chance for a consolation in stoppage time when Darius Charles fired on goal only to see Robles pull off a pair of fantastic stops, but by this point the outcome was not in doubt. Everton were through -- but at a heavy cost.
Stevenage starting lineup (4-4-2): Chris Day; Jon Ashton, Luke Jones (Dean Parrett 72'), Darius Charles, Peter Hartley; Filipe Morais (Bruno Andrade 81'), Simon Heslop, Luke Freeman, Jimmy Smith; Lucas Akins, Francois Zoko (Roarie Deacon 85').
Everton starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Joel Robles; Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka , John Stones, Tony Hibbert; Gareth Barry, James McCarthy; Bryan Oviedo , Kevin Mirallas , Aidan McGeady; Steven Naismith.
Goals: Naismith 5', 32; Heitenga 55', Gueye 84'.