Will DCL lead the line again in Lyon?
Everton's elimination from the Europa League was confirmed as they went down 3-0 in Lyon to three goals scored in the last half hour.
It was bitterly ironic for David Unsworth that his men had been having the better of the second half and had come very close to breaking the deadlock when Lyon opened the scoring at the other end.
Bertrand Traore set the French side on their way before Houssem Aouar doubled the lead and, after Morgan Schneiderlin was sent off, Memphis Depay finished Everton off with a headed third that condemned the Blues to yet another defeat.
Unsworth named a side mixed with youth and experience but one noticeably absent a striker in the starting XI. Ademola Lookman was, arguably, the most attack-minded of an XI that also included Aaron Lennon but Gylfi Sigurdsson was handed the striker's role, one he looked ill-equipped to fulfil.
Nikola Vlasic, seemingly overlooked at the weekend, was on the bench alongside Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Kevin Mirallas while Sandro Ramirez, another potential option to play up front was once again ignored. Cuco Martina deputised at left back again in the absence of Leighton Baines who didn't travel while Mason Holgate partnered captain Ashley Williams at centre-half.
Martina picked up an early booking for dragging Cornet down as Lyon began probing down the flanks but the Blues also started to settle, with Lookman in particular looking lively. The teenager was constantly looking to drive the team forward but a lack of support would be a regular feature of Everton's game.
Nevertheless, good control by Lennon in the 17th minute gave Sigurdsson a half chance but his shot was charged down.
The best chance thus far fell the home side's way in the 23rd minute when a dangerous cross found Bertrand Traore whose flicked header was well saved by Pickford and the rebound was fizzed across goal by Mendy.
Lyon kept the pressure up, with Rafael in particular causing problems down the flank and one of his crosses was fired over the bar from a central position.
Lennon's foul on Fekir set Depay up for a direct free-kick attempt from 25 yards but Pickford was equal to it, pushing the ball over his goal. An awkward fall for Martina in aftermath left him down and needing treatment, however, and he had to eventually be stretchered off with a neck brace to be replaced by Muhamed Besic.
Marcelo out-muscled Holgate to meet a corner just before the 45 minutes were up but his header glanced wide before seven additional minutes of stoppage time were indicated by the fourth official. Traore tested Pickford again with a strong drive but the 'keeper parried it away as Everton finished the first period penned into their own half.
Unsworth's team came out from the break immediately on the front foot, though, and had a great chance when Lennon cut the ball back for Gueye but he couldn't beat the keeper or the defender on the line. It was a golden opportunity that might have been rewarded with a surer finish from the Senegalese midfielder.
Pickford made another low save and Fekir went down in the area a few minutes later but his appeals for a free kick were waved away by the referee.
More great work by Lookman set up another goos chance just before the hour mark. He drove to the byline but Sigurdsson couldn't flick home at the near post.
Unsworth's second change in personnel was by choice, with Calvert-Lewin coming on for Gueye while Fekir came off for Lyon with Aouar being introduced. At that point, with the Blues not only holding their own but looking the more threatening, there was a sense that perhaps they could sneak a victory now that a recognised striker was on the pitch.
As if to emphasise the notion, Sigurdsson bounced a good shot inches wide from the edge of the box but seconds later it was 1-0 to Lyon. Schneiderlin missed a sliding tackle in front of the back four and Traore seized on a fortunate ricochet, driving wide of Pickford to slot home with 68 minutes gone.
Substitute Mariano Diaz flashed a shot narrowly wide just afterwards but it was only another few minutes when Depay picked up a rebound from Pickford's save and he passed to Aouar who slotted into the far corner to make it 2-0.
Sigurdsson whipped a dangerous free kick that just missed the far post and two Blues players couldn't add a touch to guide it over the line at the other end before Schneiderlin's lack of discipline earned him an early bath.
The Frenchman, already on a yellow card for dissent, received his marching orders for a late and unnecessarily foul, realistically ending any hope of an unlikely comeback from the away side.
Depay increased the misery three minutes from time when he headed powerfully past Pickford and that was the final nail in Everton's Europa League coffin.
Three successive defeats under the caretaker manager can be added to the two suffered before that under Ronald Koeman to round out a miserable sequence of results that dramatically underscore the problems afflicting the team.
Focus now shifts to the Premier League and the visit on Sunday of Watford, a fixture that takes on enormous importance, not only for Unsworth's hopes of earning the manager's role full-time but for Everton and the players' confidence.
Kick-off: 6pm, Thursday, 2 November 2017
Lyon: Lopes, Mendy, Diakhaby, Marcelo, Rafael [Y:78'], N'Dombele (77' Ferri), Tousart, Memphis, Fekir (62' Aouar [Y:85'], Cornet; Traore (70' Mariano).
Subs: Morel, Marçal, Tete, Gorgelin.
Everton: Pickford, Kenny, Holgate, Williams, Martina [Y:7'] (42' Besic), Schneiderlin [Y:57';YR:80'], Baningime, Gueye (61' Calvert-Lewin), Lennon (71' Vlasic), Sigurdsson, Lookman.
Subs not used: Robles, Feeney, Klaassen, Mirallas.
Referee: Orel Grinfeld