BIRMINGHAM • Roberto Martinez could not have asked for a better time to celebrate Everton's new future with a 3-1 win at Aston Villa, who were crushed by goals from Ramiro Funes Mori, Aaron Lennon and Romelu Lukaku.
There was a stark contrast between the two teams during the Premier League match at Villa Park, where home fans had held up banners before kick-off calling for the board to sell the club.
Some had even chosen to leave following Everton's third goal via Lukaku's strike on the hour and by the 74th minute, those who remained joined them in protest at their club's humiliating decline.
Bottom side Villa are eight points adrift of safety and look set to be relegated with 10 games remaining.
At the same time, Everton were welcoming Iranian billionaire Farhad Moshiri, whose multi-million pound arrival as majority shareholder over the weekend raised hopes of an exciting new chapter in the club's history.
"It's nice to welcome our new partner at the football club with a win and a positive feeling and I'm sure he'll be delighted with the performance," Martinez said.
Belgian striker Lukaku scored his club-record 17th Premier League goal of the season and the Spanish manager was delighted with his development. "Rom is still a very young man, we forget he's still only 22, but I think the way he's developed as an individual has been terrific and also the responsibility he's developed this season," he added.
Asked about the protest, Villa manager Remi Garde said: "I'm not too comfortable with this. I'm not in a position here long enough to assess the behaviour of everyone.
"I respect totally the fans as part of this football club but I have to respect as well my position and the people who put me in this position.
"I will focus my energy on trying to get the points we need. This is my job, to try to keep the players with as much confidence as I can and we need to stay together in this difficult situation."