Everton rounded out their International Champions Cup campaign in the heat and humidity of Miami with a narrow defeat to Valencia that means they finish sixth in the eight-team tournament.
Roberto Martinez named an experimental, youthful lineup that included Ross Barkley, John Stones, Bryan Oviedo, Joel Robles and Gerard Deulofeu, one that struggled to find their rhythm against the tidy, well-organised Spaniards despite a fairly even first half.
The manager's increased emphasis on ball retention and playing out from the back was clearly in evidence in the opening going but with Darron Gibson looking below par and Marouane Fellaini seemingly content to play in equally withdrawn role, Everton lack generally cohesion.
Nevertheless, the Blues looked dangerous on the counter attack before the conditions sapped their energy later in the game and a number of very promising openings went begging in the opening 45 minutes.
Oviedo was chopped down in full flight by Antonio Barragan early on but Gibson wasted the resulting free kick and both sides spurned chances to get the first effort on goal within the space of a minute, first when Ibanez mis-kicked a good cross from the Valencia right and Victor Anichebe air-kicked a similar delivery from Everton's left.
And after Oviedo had seen a heavily deflected effort bounce wide, Barkley led a swift breakaway but chose the wrong option, ignoring Deulofeu to his right before over-hitting a pass to Oviedo that allowed the opposition defence to snuff the chance out.
Deulofeu's much-anticipated first start was something of a mixed bag, the young Spaniard eager to take his man on and responsible for a couple of really bright moments but also looking short on fitness. His body language in what was a largely frustrating performance for him personally will be food for thought for Martinez as he looks to bring him slowly into the fold as the season progresses. In that sense alone this will likely have been very useful for the manager.
Coming on the heels of a highly creditable outing against Madrid, Steven Naismith's display was much more encouraging, the Scot again looking dangerous when Everton came forward and he was at the center of the Blues' best chance of the first half. Skipping over a challenge near the touchline, Naismith collected a return pass from Oviedo and forced a one-handed save from close range after surging into the penalty area.
And after one impressive counter by Deulofeu forced a corner that came to nothing, Anichebe rolled his marker and sped away into acres of space but let himself down with an awful touch once he'd reached the Valencia area and, again, the chance was lost.
A first-time shot that flew narrowly over after good work by Fellaini would be the Nigerian international's last involvement as he was withdrawn in favour of Nikica Jelavic for the second half. Stones also made way at half time, with Seamus Coleman coming on at right back.
Unfortunately, as the fatigue associated with the trip, the heat and the lack of match fitness started to take their toll, the Blues were altogether less dangerous in the second 45 minutes.
Valencia remained patient and inventive around the Everton area and they managed to engineer a chance for Michel Herrero from around 18 yards that he struck low and through a crowd for three yellow shirts that comfortably beat the unsighted Robles to make it 1-0 after 51 minutes.
Martinez responded a few minutes later by withdrawing Deulofeu and Naismith for Mirallas and Leighton Baines and the team almost instantly looked more threatening, Mirallas racing away down the right but then over-hitting a centre that eluded Jelavic and forced Oviedo wide of goal on the far side.
Overall, despite now having a line-up closer to the one expected to start the season at Carrow Road in 11 days' time, Everton looked
increasingly short on ideas coming our of defence and playing through midfield. Robles seemed all to happy to belt aimless balls downfield that produced little but the Spanish 'keeper had a pretty good game overall, producing a couple of excellent saves to keep the score to 1-0. And when he was beaten by a good Valencia move in the 66th minute, Bernat flashed his effort across goal and past the far post.
So, overall a disappointing performance and result but nevertheless a good exercise in building fitness and highlighting to the new manager where some of the deficiencies still lie.
On the positive front, Oviedo looked lively and keen to get forward, Naismith put another good shift in as he stakes a claim for a starting berth, Barkley exhibited quick feet and an eye for an opening, and Robles looked sharp when called on between the sticks.
Of concern will be the lack of bite up front and the lingering discconnect from the David Moyes era between midfield and the strikers that became an issue in the second half. And Martinez will be hoping that Jelavic didn't do himself any lasting damage when he had to come off with a couple of minutes to go after colliding awkwardly with the opposition goalkeeper.
Everton looked unfamiliar and disorganizeed in their new strip, losing possession rather cheaply in a scrappy delayed start to the game that was not a good advert for building progressively from the back. As the Blues looked to advance down the left, Oviedo got whacked by Barragan (Yellow Card).
Both sides looked to construct slick passing moves inside the opposition areas, both failing to airshots, Everton after some great individual possession play in deep from Barkley. Deulofeu was lively playing right wing, but rather overly keen on his Ronaldoesque step-overs.
Robles was put under some pressure from ac corner, punching out, then mis-judging the return shot, which he thought was going in but evaded his lunge to fly wide. Viera then wasted a gifted free-kick as Valencia were starting to dominate the game but with the Everton defence not standing too high and countering most of it.
Deulofeu fired in a great low ball but too close to the keeper. And at the other end, Cissokho fired wide. Jonas then tried to dig one out but it deflected to Joel Robles in the Everton goal. Then a top-class move down the left, Oviedo feeding Naismith, forcing a reaction fingertip save in close.
Deulofeu went on a nice run, but was well covered by the defender, which gave up a corner, that Jagielka almost headed in, with the Blues visibly suffering in the 80+ heat and humidity. Like Mirallas early on, he tends to hold the ball too long only to lose it.
Anichebe went on a crazy run, powering int the area, but overplaying his last touch horribly, gifting it to an intercepting defender. Fellaini then became wingman, firing in a low cross that Anichebe poked just over to end the half.
Jelavic came on in place of Anichebe while Coleman replaced Stones at the break. Jonas almost beat Joel with a low shot as Everton struggled to get forward. But Valencia broke again and it was almost telegraphed at the other end, Herrero poking home a bit too easily.
That prompted some changes from Martinez, Baines replacing Naismith and Mirallas on for Deulofeu, who had not really impressed. Baines played in Mirallas well but the young Belgian had strayed offside, and then Oviedo fell in the same trap.
A poor Fellaini giveaway allowed Bernat to fire in low and just wide. Everton broke with Mirallas at pace but a poor ball to Oviedo, free on the left was followed by an even worse cross in return from Oviedo. Poor fare.
Everton were getting frustrated and resorting to some pointless hoofballs, that only put the defence under more pressure, Ibanez, beating Jagielka but thankfully firing straight at Joel. There were moments of brighter play but they really weren't producing any pressure on the Valencia goal until a corner was powered over but Fellaini, er... powered it over the bar.
Osman came on for Gibson with 7 minutes left for Everton to secure a penalty shootout. Baines got in a looping cross but it was too close to the Valencia keeper for a lonely Jelavic to get to, and indeed he was then replaced by Kone.
If the first half was poor, the second half was abysmal, putting something of a question-mark over the real value of participating in this highly dubious tournament, Everton finishing 6th.
Everton bring their involvement in the International Champions Cup to a close in Miami this evening in a 5th/6th-place playoff with Valencia at Sun Life Stadium.
The Blues will debut the new blue and yellow away kit that was launched today as Roberto Martinez gets another opportunity to assess his players' readiness for the new Premier League campaign.
Once again, Martinez will get to pit his team against high-quality Continental opposition and, after he admitted that his team was punished for giving Real Madrid too much space in Saturday's controversial match in Los Angeles, his men will have the opportunity to settle into the new three-man defensive system he has introduced.
It also offers another chance to hand playing time to the players with the domestic season just 11 days away, with the likes of Gerard Deulofeu, Joel Robles, Ross Barkley and Apostolos Vellios will be hoping to get a longer run-out in the final match of the tour before the final friendly against Real Betis at the weekend.
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* Everton deducted 6 points for PSR breachView full table