Lyon prove too strong for beleaguered Blues

Thursday, 19 October, 2017 0comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 1 - 2 Olympique Lyonnais

Everton's Europa League hopes were dealt a potentially crippling blow as they were beaten again, this time by Lyon who won a testy encounter at Goodison Park.

The Blues fell behind early following a rash moment from Mason Holgate who upended Marcal in the box and Nabil Fekir despatched an unstoppable penalty to make it 1-0 with less than six minutes gone.

Ronald Koeman's side fought back in the second half and levelled when Ashley Williams headed Gylfi Sigurdsson's free kick emphatically past Lopes in the Lyon goal and the Iceland international hit the post with another set-piece.

Bertrand Traore scored what proved to be the winner shortly afterwards, however, and only Jordan Pickford, whose personal display deserved much better than to end up on the losing side, prevented the score line from being worse in the closing stages.

Koeman made a number of changes to his line-up, one which exposed the weakness in the squad and the average age of his defence. Williams came in for Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines, who dropped to the bench, with two nominal right-backs in the line-up in the form of Holgate and Cuco Martina, the latter playing as an awkward and ultimately ineffective left-back.

Meanwhile, Idrissa Gueye made way for Tom Davies, Davy Klaassen came in for Sigurdsson, Kevin Mirallas replaced Wayne Rooney (who, like Jagielka, was presumably rested and didn't make the bench) and Dominic Calvert-Lewin led the line.

Both sides made an energetic start as they sized each other up but the French team's first real foray forward reaped dividends. In attempting to clear the ball, Holgate cleaned out Marcal with a badly-timed hack, handing Fekir the chance to put Lyon ahead from the spot.

It was the worst possible start for Everton and Williams had to come across strongly to prevent Memphis Depay from making it worse three minutes later after Klaassen had been caught in possession in midfield, the visitors looking to press home their pace and superior use of the ball.

With Klaassen struggling in the centre and the team as a whole visibly bereft of confidence, Everton's response was tentative and lacking in cohesion. It wasn't until the 17th minute that Vlasic had the first sight of goal, a volley that sailed high and wide from 20-plus yards.

Mirallas then finished a purposeful move down the left by cutting inside and driving a low shot that skidded a yard wide of Lyon's goal and Schneiderlin bounced a first-time effort wide on the same side a few minutes later.

Lyon continued to be the better side going forward but Everton carved out another half-chance when Mirallas found space but when the loose ball fell to Davies, his shot was deflected behind and the resulting corner came to nothing.

The Blues' best move of the match thus far came in the 32nd minute, however, when Davies picked out an excellent run from Mirallas but Lopes closed the angle and made a terrific save.

Lyon came within inches of making it 2-0 eight minutes before the break. Schneiderlin slid through Fekir 30 yards from goal and Depay lined up the resulting free kick. Davies got a head to his direct effort, diverting it onto the top of the crossbar and behind.

At the other end, Vlasic turned his man smartly but his shot flew across goal and behind for a goal kick before Klaassen seized on an awful pass out of defence but with Calvert-Lewin to his left, he went it alone and Lopes palmed his deflected shot away to safety.

Everton remained vulnerable to the counter-attack, though, and when Holgate's attempted pass inside was intercepted, the ball was worked to Depay who drove into the box but shot fairly tamely at Pickford.

And Traore went close with a curling effort from the right flank that narrowly missed the target.

Everton started the second half on the front foot after Lookman had come on for Klaassen and the young winger had the first chance after the interval. A wicked cross by Holgate was pushed away by Lopes and, from the resulting dead-ball situation, Calvert-Lewin flicked a deep ball on towards the back post.

Lookman tried to knock a high bounce in on the half-volley but then 'keeper was well placed to save.

Another giveaway in midfield almost let Lyon in again, however, and it required a saving challenge from Schneiderlin to prevent the second goal going in.

Unfortunately, the Frenchman was injured in the process and he was forced off to be replaced by Sigurdsson with 57 minutes gone.

An incident of "handbags" flared up into something more sinister after 63 minutes when Williams went in on Lopes and left him in a heap by the advertising hoardings. Traore reacted angrily and a scrum developed in which punches appeared to be thrown but the two players escaped with yellow cards.

Aouar, just on as a substitute, fouled Vlasic, setting up a free-kick chance from the right which Sigurdsson delivered and Williams powered it home to make it 1-1.

Another free-kick from a similar position on the other side was also swung in superbly by Sigurdsson but his whipped delivery bounced back off the post and was headed behind.

Lyon restored their lead, though, when they caught Everton cold following a poor touch on the flank by substitute Sandro. Despite being heavily out-numbered in attack, Traore's move ahead of Keane was picked out in the centre by Cornet and he flicked it inside Pickford and his near post.

And Traore had another chance to deepen the Goodison gloom but his curling effort flashed over the crossbar from 20 yards out.

Everton pressed and Sandro's cross was almost headed home by Calvert-Lewin but Lopes was there again to beat it away. A successive corner was cleared and Lyon countered, Pickford called into superb emergency action to close down Cornet to keep the score at 2-1.

Pickford would deny the same player again in injury time, making himself big and blocking the substitute's shot from the angle.

Combined with Atalanta's win over Apollon Limassol, this was another hugely damaging result in the Europa League for Everton and their record now represents the worst start to a group stage campaign by any English club.

The defeat also extends the Blues' record to just two wins in 12 under Koeman, a sequence that will only intensify the pressure on the manager's shoulders as he prepares for another difficult game in the form of Arsenal's visit to Goodison this Sunday.

Everton: Pickford, Holgate, Keane, Williams [Y:], Martina, Davies, Schneiderlin (57' Sigurdsson), Klaassen (46' Lookman [Y:]), Vlasic, Mirallas (68' Ramirez), Calvert-Lewin.
Subs not used: Stekelenburg, Baines, Besic, Gueye.

Referee: Bas Nijhuis