Matchday UpdatesEverton carried their shocking recent form forward into the Europa League giving up three goals before the break.
Ronald Koeman promised a strong team but he has named six changes from the side that performed so poorly against Spurs last Saturday. Dominic Calvert-Lewin comes in up-front to replace the labouring Sandro, who has so far failed to show any of the dynamism, skill and firepower he displayed for Malaga. Besic and Vlasic start with Gueye and Klaassen dropping to the bench. Mason Holgate is at right back with Jagielka replacing the awful Ashley Williams, and Stekelenburg plays in goal, with Pickford on the bench.
Everton took to the field wearing their washed-out grey and off-white second kit, as the teams swapped ends before Atalanta kicked off with some touchline action and a few throw-ins. Rooney was forced to defend and an early corner kick given up, headed away by Rooney.
The first few minutes were played mostly in Everton's half, with another corner, headed away again by Rooney and something of a break by Calvert-Lewin but a terrible giveaway at the end of his run.
The Greys weathered the storm and picked up more possession without getting anywhere close to the Atalanta area. Schneiderlin slid in a little hard, forcing an acrobatic leap and squeal from the Italian. Sigurdsson final got close and fired in on goal, forcing a parried save. Rooney then tried an audacious chip that drifted over the bar as Everton finally showed some intent.
A great cross in from Calvert-Lewin was not attacked and ran through to the keeper. Rooney tried anther placed shot that was blocked away with a header. At the other end, Holgate had to defend and gave up another corner, headed behind by Rooney for another corner, a good inswinger that Jagielka finally dug out for a throw-in.
A good release-ball was won by Calvert-Lewin but again his product was lacking, passing it straight to a defender as support arrived. Keane got in a great block to deny the shot as Atalanta found some dangerous space on the D. Cristante was next to be allowed space to shoot, this also blocked at close range.
A simple move saw Atalanta slice through the spacious Everton defence and Stekelenburg did very well to divert it behind but the corner bounced through off two Everton players to Masiello who had a simple tap-in at the far post.
Everton tried to respond but the 'home' side now had the impetus and Everton looked really poor, unable to retain possession or carry forward an attack. More horrific moments in the Everton defence saw Stekelenburg make a desperate stop to prevent Everton falling further behind as they threatened to lose any kind of control on the play.
Rooney picked out Calvert-Lewin with a lovely chip but he just didn't attack the chance and allowed it to bounce through harmlessly. And Everton were soon back in defence, fending off wave after wave of attack from Atalanta, who won another corner, but they were whistled for pushing.
From nothing, Gomez lashed in a brilliant strike that gave Stekelenburg no chance — an object lesson, as if one was needed, in how to score goals. Then, a loose ball forward was intercepted and, on the counter, Cristante had no trouble in sliding it past Stekelenburg. A pretty shocking first half from Everton and they again paid the price for failing to push forward.
With no changes after the break, Everton showed more invention, with Calvert-Lewin flicking a nice ball to Rooney who fired in on goal but, without the smarts of Gomez, straight at the keeper. At the other end, Petanga fired in a shot that forced a save from Stekelenburg.
Everton tried to hold and probe but another mistake set up a rapid counter from Atalanta ending in a shot from Gomez under pressure that flew over the Everton bar. Everton won a free-kick wide right clipped in by Sigurdsson but with nothing from it, and Atalanta swarmed the other way, De Roon clipping one over Stekelenburg and off the top of the bar!
Everton staged something passing for an attack but no real threat on goal. Sigurdsson saw yellow after being mugged for the ball and lunging after his tormentor, summing up the paucity of Everton's play. Koeman decide to make changes after the hour, with Everton winning a free-kick that Sigurdsson delivered in well but keeper Berisha was out to punch. Everton showing no real invention, and little likelihood that they could even pull a goal back. Klaassen and Sandro replaced Rooney and Schneiderlin.
Sigurdsson put in a really good ball this time but no Everton head could profit. The second half was now looking like a repeat of the Spurs game, with Atalanta taking pity and turning it into a training match.
Finally Sandro played a forward pass for Sigurdsson and a shot on goal, deflected for a corner. Besic was then tempted to step forward and fire over from long range. Kpoeman's final change was to replace Calvert-Lewin, who had been rather poor, with Kevin Mirallas.
Sandro tried to inject more forward intent, playing in Holgate for the cross, deflected out for a corner from Sigurdsson that was headed on to Mirallas and well wide. Sandro then spun his man and fired in but from way too far outside the box.
Holgate got over on the left-side channel and saw his shot deflect behind but no corner.
Scorers: Masiello (27'), Gomez (41'), Cristante (44')
Atalanta: Berisha, Toloi, Palomino, Masiello [Y:33'] (77' Caldara), Hateboer, Cristante (82' Kurtic), Freuler, de Roon, Castagne, Petagna (79' Cornelius), Gomez.
Subs not Used: Gollini, Orsolini, Haas, Bastoni.
Everton: Stekelenburg, Holgate, Jagielka, Keane, Baines, Besic, Schneiderlin (66' Sandro), Rooney (66' Klaassen), Vlasic, Sigurdsson [Y:61'], Calvert-Lewin (76' Mirallas).
Subs not Used: Pickford, Williams, Martina, Gueye.
Referee: Vladislav Bezborodov (Russia).
Match PreviewEverton begin their group stage campaign in Italy against Atalanta hoping to use Europe as a springboard to launch their season.
Successive defeats against Chelsea and Tottenham without scoring a goal, coupled with a disappointing end to the transfer window, have taken the gloss off what began as a hugely promising summer but the Blues made it through the qualifying rounds of the Europa League fairly comfortably.
An away game against Serie A opposition is likely to pose an altogether more challenging contest, though, particularly for a side that has been struggling to create scoring chances.
Ronald Koeman's men meet Atalanta, last season's surprise package in Serie A having finished fourth - above Lazio, Milan, Inter and Fiorentina. That ensured a place in UEFA's secondary continental competition for the side from Bergamo.
However, the Toffees aren't heading to the city in Lombardy but rather the Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia - the home of Sassuolo - to take on Atalanta on neutral territory.
Gian Piero Gasperini's side are being forced to pitch up 120 miles away from their own ground in European competition this term - for comparison, it's like the Toffees not being able to play at Goodison Park and having to use Coventry's Ricoh Arena instead.
Atalanta will play at the venue near Modena for so long as they remain in the Europa League as their home stadium — the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia — is currently being renovated.
Despite starting this season with two defeats, their most recent performance saw them claim a 2-1 win against Sassuolo which has seen them kick-start their campaign. Their form a year ago was no better with just two wins in their opening six league games, so if history is anything to go by, Atalanta are just getting started and Everton should be wary.
Their rise that saw many in Italian media call them the ‘new Leicester' has meant losing a few of their star players, with Andrea Conti and Franck Kessie joining AC Milan and Alessandro Bastoni joining the black-and-blue half of the city. With their two highest transfer spends this summer being the £12m signing of Marten de Roon from Middlesbrough and Timothy Castagne from Genk for £5m, it would be fair to suggest this Atalanta side isn't as strong as that of last season.
Ronald Koeman expects a difficult game but has said that Wayne Rooney will be part of the team.
Ronaldo Koeman is expected to offer his stars a chance at redemption by fielding a similar side to that which fell so short against Tottenham. Mason Holgate and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are e expected to come into the line-up in an otherwise unchanged side. Rooney is also expected to play again despite playing the full 90 minutes on Saturday and expecting to start on the weekend.
Atalanta are expected to make a few changes despite an encouraging victory on the weekend. Rotation in goal and a Europa League debut for Castagne are the biggest headlines regarding Atalanta's XI. Mattia Caldara, Andreas Cornelius, Aaron Meijers and Remo Freuler are all expected to drop out of the line-up.
Predicted Line Ups
Atalanta: Berisha, Toloi, Palomino, Masiello, Hateboer, Freuler, Christante, Castagne, Kurtic, Petagna, Gomez.
Everton: Pickford, Holgate, Keane, Williams, Baines, Schneiderlin, Gueye, Klaassen, Rooney, Sigurdsson, Calvert-Lewin.