ASK Dominic Calvert-Lewin what the highlight of 2017 has been and it is a safe bet it won’t be the night he scored two goals in the Carabao Cup against Sunderland.

But the man who struck the only goal for England’s Under-20s to lift the World Cup in June will still remember knocking out the Black Cats at Goodison Park during a pretty uneventful third round tie.

Calvert-Lewin’s first brace for Everton, with goals either side of half-time before he was replaced, was enough to give Simon Grayson’s side more problems by forcing them out of the competition. There was a third with seven minutes remaining when his replacement, Oumar Niasse, powered in a finish to complete the win.

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It was hardly a shock, given how the Premier League’s big spenders took on the cost-cutters of the Championship, and yet it was only Calvert-Lewin’s bits of quality in the penalty area that proved the difference initially.

It is now five games without a win in all competitions for Sunderland, including four defeats, and Grayson will spend the rest of this week trying to come up with a way to finally end the long wait for a win at the Stadium of Light when Cardiff travel up on Saturday.

Any hopes of heading into that fixture with a lift from springing a surprise at Everton – who had not scored in 443 minutes before the opener - never seemed on the cards, even if there were a few half chances which went to waste after falling to James Vaughan.

Sunderland has become a destination for Everton players in recent years, so the three ex-Toffees in Grayson’s starting line-up were unable to enjoy happy returns. Jack Rodwell, Vaughan and Darron Gibson formed part of a side which included six changes to that which drew at Hull.

In fact there were more Everton appearances in the Sunderland side than there were in Everton’s, and yet the youthful and new-look feel about the home side still had enough to get the job done against their Championship opponents.

Grayson knew he had to mix things up, with loan signings Ty Browning and Brendan Galloway not granted permission to play against their parent club, but he was limited to what he could do in trying to keep his team competitive.

It is hard to imagine a club the size of Sunderland only spending £1.25m on ten new players during the same summer when Everton paid out more than £140m on signings, including goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

The former Sunderland shot-stopper, after moving for £30m, was only around to help with the warm-ups against the club he graduated through the academy. His replacement, Maarten Stekelenburg, was one of eight changes for the hosts after losing at Manchester United.

There was an early scare for Stekelenburg when Muhamed Besic’s mistake gifted Vaughan a chance against his former club, only for the ex-Everton striker to miss the target when he should have at least tested the keeper.

After that Sunderland’s chances were few and far between. Everton, hardly in top gear themselves, looked the most dangerous without seriously testing Jason Steele until Calvert-Lewin’s opener.

The only time Steele had to hold something before that was when he held Sandro’s free-kick on 25 minutes which was destined for the top corner.

Other than that there were a few nice touches and moments from the promising attacking talent Calvert-Lewin and those lifted a subdued crowd, but nothing to really get things going.

Billy Jones, one of three full-backs on the pitch for the visitors, justified his surprise inclusion at the heart of the defence with a couple of timely headed clearances. The first was excellent, preventing Calvert-Lewin from having a chance to turn Mason Holgate’s deep cross.

If there was one player who was going to score it seemed it would be Calvert-Lewin – and he delivered with half-time approaching.

When the ball dropped to him in the box he still had plenty to do. His control was first class, his twist and then turn caught out the Sunderland backline and his low finish from 12 yards was too good to beat Steele in his bottom corner.

It was exactly what Everton needed on a night when they could not really afford further frustration, after a disappointing run in the Premier League and Wayne Rooney’s off-field problems which have seen him fined by the club following his drink-driving conviction. He was left out here.

Sunderland, effectively sitting with a five-man midfield for the most part, could no longer soak up the pressure when the teams emerged for the second half if they wanted to make a game of it.

Everton had lost their previous two League Cup games to the men from Wearside, the most recent was 19 years ago, and an extension of that was never on the cards from there on in – particularly after Calvert-Lewin’s second.

Six minutes into the second half he controlled a lovely pass into the area by Sandro before then instinctively side-footing a sweet finish high inside Steele’s top right corner.

After that Sunderland never looked like getting back into things. Substitute Callum McManaman volleyed wide from an unmarked position, and Vaughan headed marginally wide, but that was as close as they came to making a game of things.

Calvert-Lewin was within inches of completing his hat-trick too; only for his diving header from Nikola Vlasic’s cross to bounce off Steele’s left-hand post and to safety.

And then, after Steele had made two brilliant stops to deny Ademola Lookman, with eight minutes remaining, Calvert-Lewin’s replacement added the third.

Niasse controlled Tom Davies’ delivery with his chest inside the area before finding the roof of Steele’s net to seal Everton’s progress and Sunderland’s exit.

  • Sunderland and Everton’s players both wore shirts sporting the Bradley Lowery Foundation logo after its launch in memory of the little Sunderland fan who lost his battle with a rare cancer in July.