Boss Ronald Koeman expressed his hope Everton will enjoy a run of decent form after their losing streak was ended by a 3-0 home victory over Sunderland in the Carabao Cup third round.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin netted twice and substitute Oumar Niasse marked his first Everton appearance since May 2016 with his maiden goal for the club as the Toffees moved on from four straight losses in which they had conceded 12 times and not scored once.
It was the first of four successive fixtures at Goodison Park for Koeman’s men, who in the six-game winless sequence prior to that had played away five times.
And the Dutchman, whose side will face Chelsea away in round four, said afterwards: “It’s normal if you don’t win that it is difficult.
“But let’s hope… We started tonight to win at home and we have three to go, and if we get three wins, I think the whole situation will be different, and I will go into the international break with a laugh on my face.
“And if not, maybe it will be a different face!
“In a difficult period, the best medicine is scoring goals and winning games. Overall it was positive.”
Koeman made eight changes, with Calvert-Lewin one of those brought in.
The manager was full of praise for the England Under-21 forward after his two composed strikes, but was giving no guarantees about his chances of starting Saturday’s clash with Bournemouth.
Koeman said: “It is still a young player, (and) sometimes you need to protect him. But he is a good player – he will be stronger, faster, better.
“He scored a great first goal and is working well. He is a good boy and he will come. But we have more players in that position.
“He took his chance tonight. He scored two goals, was working hard, and that is good. It’s all about keeping going, and keeping developing young players.”
Koeman also had warm words for the previously frozen-out Niasse following his fine finish with seven minutes to go.
“His first touch on his chest, and then the finish with his right foot – it was a great goal, the perfect goal,” Koeman said.
“Everyone knows it was difficult for him, and it is all about taking your chance when you get an opportunity, and he showed tonight he is part of the team.
“Maybe he doesn’t feel that pressure and that makes him even more dangerous for opponents.”
Koeman also stressed Wayne Rooney was missing from the squad as he was being rested, insisting that decision was not influenced by the forward’s off-field situation.
Rooney pleaded guilty to drink-driving on Monday at Stockport Magistrates’ Court and was banned from driving for two years and ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid community work. It is understood he was also docked two weeks’ wages by his club.
Koeman said: “It was not about his situation, of the court. I thought I needed to rest some players and Wayne was one of them. He asked me to play tonight and I said ‘no, (you will play on) Saturday’.”
Sunderland boss Simon Grayson, whose side are 21st in the Championship, said after a contest for which he made six changes: “I thought for about 40 minutes we contained them.
“But the goal just before half-time (Calvert-Lewin scored his first in the 38th minute) obviously gives them a lift and rocks us a little bit.
“We got punished for mistakes. No matter who you play against, but especially good Premier League players, if you give them time and space in the box like we did for all three goals, they are going to punish you, and that was the case.”