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Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
Europa League
 Thursday 26 February 2014; 8:05pm
3 1
 Young Boys
 Lukaku (pen: 25', 30')
 Mirallas (42')
Half Time: 0 - 0
Sanogo (13') 
R32 L2
Referee: S Johannesson (Swe)

Match Report

Depending on your interpretation of the characters as they might relate to Everton, either Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde or, perhaps, a little both when you consider the first quarter of the game revealed themselves again at Goodison Park tonight as the Blues cruised through to the last 16 of the Europa League.

The margin of their victory, 7-2 over the two legs, was indicative of both their attacking superiority and a little of that familiar defensive frailty when John Stones isn't in the line-up. (Ironically enough, of course, he was missing from this home leg through suspension after receiving a red card in Bern last week.) Indeed, Young Boys, trailing 4-1 coming into the evening and with nothing more to lose by attacking, had threatened to make a game of it with a strong first 20 minutes during which time Roberto Martinez's back line were not wholly inspiring of confidence.

Given license to counter-attack, however, and slice through opposition defences as they have done so well in European competition this season, Everton had all the invitation they needed to cancel out Sekou Sanogo's 13th-minute opener and pad their aggregate lead with two goals from Romelu Lukaku and one from Kevin Mirallas that capped off the tie before half time.

The former of the two Belgians was, perhaps, a surprise inclusion in the starting XI sitting on a yellow card and having played so much football already this season. But, after his uncharacteristically profligate afternoon against Leicester City on Sunday, Roberto Martinez might have given the striker the chance to rebuild some confidence against familiar opposition.

Indeed, the Swiss side were probably glad to see him make way for Arouna Kon just a couple of minutes into the second half; Lukaku scored an excellent penalty and then doubled Everton's lead with an even better first-time finish, taking his tally over both legs to five. Mirallas, meanwhile, was handed his first start since the Merseyside derby and scored with another impressively composed finish on the breakaway to make it 3-1 on the night.

With one eye on the handsome first-leg lead and another on Sunday's trip to Arsenal, Martinez made five changes to his starting line-up, with Antolin Alcaraz brought in to replace John Stones and Luke Garbutt handed a chance to impress in place of Leighton Baines and the injured Bryan Oviedo. Gareth Barry returned following suspension to partner James McCarthy while Ross Barkley dropped back to the bench to accommodate Darron Gibson and Mirallas started in the absence of the cup-tied Aaron Lennon.

The Blues started a on the front foot themselves but started to look a little nervy as they attempted to get to grips with Young Boys' robust attempts to reduce their deficit as the contest warmed up. A couple of cutbacks from the byline by Gibson and Mirallas looking for Lukaku and an incorrect offside call on Steven Naismith that robbed him of a clear goalscoring chance signalled Everton's early attacking intentions but it was the visitors who took the lead.

Naismith's header out from a corner fell straight to Raphal Nuzzolo on the edge of the box and his downward half-volley kicked up towards Milan Vilotic who tried to nod it past Tim Howard. The American made an instinctive blocking save with one hand but couldn't prevent Sanogo from hammering the ball home almost on the line. It was an incident that looked worse for the goalkeeper than it actually was because he did well to make the initial save at point-blank range.

Seven minutes later, Seamus Coleman had to come across to charge down Guillerme Hoarau's shot as the last man to concede another corner from which Scott Sutter planted a thumping header onto the crossbar and that was followed by Yuya Kubo driving narrowly over the bar and the sight of Howard admonishing his back line for allowing a succession of shots aimed at his goal.

Everton were always a threat going forward themselves, however, and Lukaku, displaying more evidence of a vastly improved first touch, held off his marker before backheeling the ball into the path of Steven Naismith. The pass may have been a little heavy but Naismith strained to reach it in typically determined fashion and was taken out by Young Boys goalkeeper, Marco Wlfli.

Lukaku stepped up to take the resulting penalty and stroked it confidently into the bottom left-hand corner and past the 'keeper's gloves to make it 1-1 on the night and 5-2 on aggregate.

It was 2-1 and 6-2 just five minutes later. Gibson picked out Garbutt scampering down the left flank with an excellent pass and the young left back had time to look up and swing a cross towards the penalty spot that was met on the run by Lukaku and finished first time, again into the bottom left. It was a beautiful goal and testament to the abilities of all three players in their respective roles.

Apart from the freedom afforded Sutter down the Young Boys right where Garbutt seemed to be lacking in supporting cover, the momentum was clearly with the home side and Alcaraz missed with a free header from a free kick, Barry drove just over from 25 yards and Mirallas forced a decent one-handed save from Wlfli as the Blues threatened to increase their lead further.

That threat was realised three minutes before the break when Gibson, in commanding and enterprising mood in the centre of the park, stepped deftly away from a challenge, looked up and pinged a perfect through-ball to release Mirallas behind the visitors' defence. The Belgian is usually clinical in those situations and duly slotted under the 'keeper to make it 3-1.

That was it as far as the goals were concerned but Arouna Kone got 40-plus minutes as a substitute in the second half when he replaced Lukaku and Everton went very close on a few occasions to blowing this leg as wide open as the first. Mirallas was denied by Wlfli's toe as he cut in from the right and fired goalwards, the 'keeper sending his shot just over the bar, and Kone had one shot saved and fired another one off the post.

Garbutt, meanwhile, came within inches of registering another assist but his low cross missed Mirallas' toe by inches and the Belgian would be foiled once more by Wlfli when the 'keeper punched his shot into the air and Kone was adjudged offside as tried to bring down the rebound. Barry also shot tamely at the goalkeeper when he might have done better and Leon Osman, a late substitute for Naismith, had a headed goal chalked off for a slight push in a defender's back from Coleman's chipped centre.

So, some early unsteadiness aside, a professional and reasonably entertaining performance from Everton that ensures they breeze into the next round and await Friday's draw. On this form, particularly from an attacking point of view, they will fancy their chances against anybody and the times when Young Boys were at their most intense will have given Martinez and his players a taste of the greater pressure and goal threat they can expect from their next opponents, no matter who they are.

In the meantime, focus shifts back to the Premier League where this kind of offensive freedom and verve would be very welcome and would stand the Blues in good stead at a ground where they haven't seen a win since 1996.

Lyndon Lloyd

Match Preview

Having done the hard part in some style last week in Switzerland, Everton return to Goodison Park for what should be the formality of a second leg against Young Boys.

The Blues bring home a 4-1 lead from the first leg and, should they need them to come into play, four away goals while the Swiss side will likely come to Merseyside having thrown any caution to the wind in the hope of rescuing the tie.

Roberto Martinez has to balance avoiding complacency with the need to prepare for the trip to Arsenal on Sunday, so while there could be changes – one of them enforced at the back by John Stones's suspension – he will likely keep the core of his recent starting XI intact.

Sylvain Distin is fit again and available and will vie with Antolin Alcaraz for a place in defence alongside Phil Jagielka. Meanwhile, Martinez has already hinted that Tim Howard will continue in goal despite his nightmare against Leicester and the opportunity to offer more experience to Joel Robles.

Bryan Oviedo tweaked a hamstring in Bern last week and joins Tony Hibbert and Aiden McGeady on the injured list and Aaron Lennon is cup-tied having already played in the competition for Tottenham, while Christian Atsu is ruled out with a virus.

On the big plus side, Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar are both finally in contention for some playing time, with the latter and Kevin Mirallas really the only players capable of adding real width in Atsu and McGeady's absence.

Up front, both Steven Naismith and Romelu Lukaku could do with a rest if the manager decides to start with Arouna Kone, while a low-pressure game could be the ideal forum for Ross Barkley to express himself and regain some composure in front of the home fans.

A three-goal lead should be unassailable but a professional performance aimed at winning this game to help build confidence ahead of the trip to the Emirates is still in order.

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Match Preview
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Match Report
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2014-15 Reports Index
< Leicester (H) Arsenal (A) >
EVERTON (4-5-1)
  McCarthy (Besic 61')
  Naismith (Osman 80')
  Lukaku (Kone 49')
  Subs not used
  Atsu (ill)
  Stones (suspended)
  Hibbert (injured)
  McGeady (injured)
  Oviedo (injured)
  Lennon (cup-tied)
  Long (loan)
  McAleny (loan)
  Pennington (loan)
YOUNG BOYS (4-4-2)
  Lecjaks (Bürki 57' )
  Kubo (Afum 76')
  Nuzzulo (Gerndt 68')
  Subs not used

Cup Scores
Athletic Blibao 2-3 Torino
Besiktas 1-0 Liverpool
Borussia M. 2-3 Sevilla
Club Brugge 3-0 Aalborg
Din. Moscow 3-1 Anderlecht
Dynamo Kiev 3-1 Guingamp
Everton 3-1 Young Boys
Feyenoord 1-2 Roma
Fiorentina 2-0 Tottenham
Inter Milan 1-0 Celtic
Legia Warsaw 0-3 Ajax
Napoli 1-0 Trabzonspor
Olympiacos 2-2 Dnipro
RB Salzburg 1-3 Villarreal
Sporting 0-0 Wolfsburg
Zenit 3-0 PSV


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