Frank Lampard said he will never forget the reception he has received from the Everton fans after romping to a 4-1 win over Brentford to reach the FA Cup fifth round on Saturday.
The mood around Goodison Park was transformed from recent months of despair as the former England midfielder was warmly welcomed, along with new signings Dele Alli and Donny van de Beek who were paraded at half-time.
Everton fed off that positivity to record just a second win over Premier League opposition in 15 games.
“I can only thank the fans for their support of me from the moment I walked out, through the match, and at the end when they’ve seen their team perform how they did,” said Lampard.
“Today was very special. It is a day I will never forget. It is only the start but I can’t help but get caught up in the emotion for a moment.”
One of the Toffees’ weaknesses this season was turned into a strength as Yerry Mina and Mason Holgate scored from set-pieces, while Richarlison and Andros Townsend were also on target.
Brentford’s big name deadline day signing Christian Eriksen was not included in Thomas Frank’s squad as he prepares to make his return to football after suffering a cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.
The Bees’ only reply came via an Ivan Toney penalty early in the second half that cut the deficit to 2-1 at the time.
But Brentford can now concentrate on holding off the likes of Everton at the bottom of the Premier League table to make sure they stay up in their first season in the top flight for 74 years.
Lampard was given a rousing reception before kick-off, in stark contrast to the unpopular appointment of his predecessor Rafael Benitez, who had spent six years in charge of rivals Liverpool.
Mina’s injury problems have exacerbated Everton’s defensive issues and his return is a timely one for Lampard ahead of huge league games against Newcastle and Leeds in the coming week.
The Colombian rose highest to power in Demarai Gray’s corner for the opening goal on 31 minutes.
Richarlison should have extended that lead before half-time, but made no mistake with a fine finish from Allan’s through ball three minutes into the second half.
Brentford were given a lifeline when Jordan Pickford bundled over Toney inside the area five minutes later and the striker converted from the spot.
However, Holgate’s header quickly restored Everton’s two-goal cushion before Townsend rounded off a fine result in stoppage time.