- Everton’s first win in four games
- QPR still awaiting first point away from home
- Ross Barkley scores first goal of the season
- Toffees sit seven points behind the top four
- QPR now conceded 30 PL goals – more than any other side
EVERTON climbed into the top half of the Premier League table with a much-needed victory as Queens Park Rangers remain without an away point this season.
Ross Barkley opened his account for the season with a sizzling 20-yard strike just after the half-hour mark.
A deflected Kevin Mirallas free-kick doubled their advantage 10 minutes later before Steven Naismith nodded home from Aiden McGeady’s cross soon after the break.
Substitute Bobby Zamora netted a consolation for Rangers, who stay in the bottom three after an eighth successive defeat on the road.
The Toffees record only their third league win of the season at Goodison Park to move level on points with neighbours Liverpool.
And Roberto Martinez’s side will be keen to take advantage of the festive period with their Europa League campaign now on hold until they face Swiss side Young Boys in February.
Harry Redknapp’s QPR, who were without suspended top scorer Charlie Austin, were unbeaten in four of their previous six games but their away day woes continued on a chilly night in Merseyside.
The visitors from west London made a settled start and were well-organised with captain Joey Barton anchoring the midfield.
Matt Phillips went close with a dipping volley after Leighton Baines had headed away Yuk Sun-Young’s delivery.
But England international Barkley – playing in a deeper midfield role – set the Toffees on their way to a comfortable win by cracking an unstoppable finish past Rob Green having started the attack inside his own half.
His midfield partner Muhamed Besic also caught the eye with a combative display and the hosts seized control as Mirallas’ free-kick from 20 yards nicked off Eduardo Vargas and wrong-footed Green.
McGeady almost added to the advantage on the stroke of half-time with a curling effort wide of the post.
The Irish international then laid on the insurance goal for Naismith, whose back-post header was helped in by a combination of Richard Dunne and Nedum Onuoha on the line.
QPR introduced Zamora from the bench and the veteran striker bagged his first goal since the Championship play-off final winner in May with 10 minutes to go after Tim Howard kept out a low drive from Jordon Mutch.
It was only a third away goal this season for Redknapp’s men but it mattered little in the context of the game.
There was a sour end for the Toffees as Mirallas was stretchered from the field late on with an ankle injury following a foul by Mutch and the crowd became increasingly anxious.
Arouna Kone made his first league appearance of the season after injury with a brief late cameo and fellow substitute Samuel Eto’o struck the post in stoppage time.
But Everton – who face Southampton at St Mary’s on Saturday – had more than enough to record only a second victory in their last seven league outings.
Meanwhile, QPR – who are just one point behind 17th-placed Burnley – face fellow strugglers West Bromwich Albion this weekend at Loftus Road.
Everton (4-2-3-1): Howard, Coleman, Jagielka (C), Distin, Baines, Besic, Barkley, McGeady (Pienaar 73), Naismith, Mirallas (Kone 90+1), Lukaku (Eto’o 77).
Subs not used: Robles (GK), Stones, Garbutt, Alcaraz.
Booked: Baines (86)
Goals: Barkley (33), Mirallas (43), Naismith (53)
Queens Park Rangers (4-3-3): Green, Isla, Dunne, Onuoha, Yun Suk-Young, Barton (C), Mutch, Fer (Kranjcar 77), Phillips (Zamora 59), Vargas, Hoilett.
Subs not used: McCarthy (GK), Ferdinand, Hill, Henry, Wright-Phillips.
Booked: Mutch (88)
Goals: Zamora (80)
Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire) – 8.5/10