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Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
Europa League
 Thursday 28 September 2017; 8:05pm
2 2
 A. Limassol
Rooney 21'
Vlasic 66'
Half Time: 1 - 1
Sardinero 12'
Yuste 88'  
Fixture 2
Referee: Tamás Bognar

Match Report

Everton were denied a vital victory by Hector Yuste's equaliser for Apollon Limassol after substitute Nikola Vlasic had put them on course for three points.

The Blues were leading as the game entered the 88th minute with the Cypriot side a man down following Valentin Roberge's sending off but they couldn't deal with a wicked free kick that Yuste guided beyond Jordan Pickford to level the match at 2-2.

Ronald Koeman made more changes to his previous line-up, with Jonjoe Kenny, Tom Davies and Sandro Ramirez coming into the side at the expense of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Davy Klaassen and Cuco Martina.

Everton started poorly, lacking tempo and looking vulnerable to Limassol on the counter-attack.

Gylfi Sigurdsson had an early chance to create something with a free kick but delivered the ball too close to the 'keeper while Rooney's gamble to chase Pickford's long clearance almost paid off but he couldn't quite bring the ball in as it bounced in the opposition box.

Limassol's pressing paid dividends with 12 minutes gone. Under pressure, Ashley Williams elected not to pass back to his goalkeeper and gave the ball straight to Maglica.

The ball was quickly whipped into the middle where Adrian Sardinero was initially foiled by Pickford but the ball broke kindly off the Englishman's arm and he had a routine tap-in to give the visitors the lead.

The Blues were gifted an equaliser, though, nine minutes later. Looking for his goalkeeper, Yuste send a wayward backpass beyond Bruno Vale and Rooney had the simple task of stabbing into the empty goal.

Soon afterwards, Rooney missed an overhead kick attempt from Davies's looping header back across goal and Sigurdsson's volley was saved by the 'keeper.

After having to have his hand bandaged up when a defender landed on it with his studs, Rooney curled an effort narrowly wide as the Blues tried to take charge of the contest.

With the half drawing to a close and Everton struggling to trouble their opponents, the Vale was twice called into action. Davies stung his palms with a rocket from outside the box that he pushed away and he then fisted a Sigurdsson free kick to safety following a foul on the edge of the area.

Koeman looked to address his team's shortcomings over the first 45 minutes by bringing Vlasic on for Idrissa Gueye to add more options going forward.

The change didn't immediately change the pattern of the game as Everton toiled to break down an entrenched Limassol side and it was the visitors who forced the first save of the second half that Pickford pulled off one handed to foil a shot from distance.

It would take almost 20 minutes for the home team to threaten the Cypriots' goal when Sigurdsson swung a free kick to the back post and Williams connected but could only put it into the Gwladys Street on the stretch from a tight angle.

Limassol's mostly organised rearguard was opened up a minute later, though, when Rooney's pass deflected into the path of Sigurdsson who flicked Vlasic into the clear behind the defence and the Croatian finished with impressive composure, tucking his shot inside the post past the advancing 'keeper.

Koeman had already decided to replace Sandro and Davies with Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Davy Klaassen and they came on straight after Everton's second goal.

Yuste's cynical foul on Rooney earned him an entry in the referee's book and gave Everton another set-piece opportunity. The initial free kick was headed clear and Vlasic's volley was sliced wide but when the ball was worked back inside, the former Hajduk Split man fired a low shot that was saved.

A minute later, the Blues countered with a long ball to Calvert-Lewin that the young striker controlled well and then hammered narrowly wide searching for the top corner.

Rooney tested Vale with a speculative drive from distance, Kenny had a shot charged down as Sigurdsson slipped him in on the overlap and Rooney tried to emulate the Icelander's feat in Split with an audacious effort from the halfway line but it drifted wide.

When "Roby" was sent off for going into Calvert-Lewin's back with his studs, it looked to be game over but a free kick from the left conceded by Klaassen on Jander as he tried to gallop through set up the free kick from which Limassol equalised.

Everton responded immediately and Calvert-Lewin looked to have put them straight back into the lead from Vlasic's inch-perfect cross but Vale denied him with an excellent save.

In the final minute of stoppage time, Vlasic almost put Rooney in and a defender's clearance cannoned off another white shirt and almost looped in but it landed on the roof of the net instead.

Everton: Pickford, Kenny, Holgate, Williams, Baines {c}, Schneiderlin, Gueye (45' Vlasic), Davies (67' Klaassen), Sigurdsson, Rooney, Ramirez (67' Calvert-Lewin).
Subs: Stekelenburg, Martina, Mirallas, Lookman.

Attendance: 27,034

Lyndon Lloyd

It was just so Everton

Just Ste and I attended this one and with my better half needing the car today Ste kindly offered to drive, even picking me up from work. We arrived at the pub in plenty of time and it was nice to have a good natter over a beer or two. As always seems to be the case at the moment, you couldn’t help but question the team news when you saw it before the game. Why do we persevere with no width? Why was Dominic Calvert-Lewin not starting the game? Why begin with two defensive midfielders at home to a Cypriot team? I’m all for giving players a chance and giving players time to settle in, but given the situation we have found ourselves in and the pressure Ronald Koeman is under, now isn’t the time to experiment much.

On we went to the game. The Z-Cars rang out and drained out with no players taking to the field. I’d say you could have heard a pin drop at Goodison Park if not for the noisy Limassol supporters. While I suppose you could say their supporters showed us how it was done off the pitch, you could also argue their players showed us how to begin a game on the pitch also. They began at a high tempo, kept the ball well, pressed us back and, hey presto, forced an error to put themselves ahead. Well “forced” may be a bit inaccurate, maybe “gifted” would be more appropriate after Ashley Williams howler surrendered possession. He then didn’t stop the cross from Anton Maglica and it was converted at the second attempt by Adrian Sardinero.

The crowd were frustrated and didn’t really hold back in letting the team know it. We did eventually manage to pull a few things together. If Limassol’s goal was a gift, ours was completely gift-wrapped when Hector Yuste’s careless backpass was tapped in by Wayne Rooney. Undeservedly, we were level.

We did have chances for the remainder of the half but failed to make a breakthrough. Sandro Ramirez skied an effort after good work to create space, Tom Davies forced a fine save from Bruno Vale and Gylfi Sigurdsson worked the keeper with a free kick but we went in level at the break.

The second half was much improved and though it isn’t saying much, it was probably the best we have played this season. We were much more adventurous as we tried to force a winner, and we thought it my have came when Sigurdsson played a smart ball in for half time substitute Nikola Vlasic to finish smartly. It looked as though we were getting away with the three points.

With a lot of smart play around the box but, familiarly, no real penetration inside the penalty area, we often looked like we might just get there but we couldn’t quite get through. The introduction of Dominic Calvert-Lewin injected zeal into our attack and he almost scored with a curling effort from just outside the box, but it drifted wide of the far post.

When, with just a few minutes left on the clock, Roberge was dismissed for a nasty, and very unnecessary, stamp on Dominic Calvert-Lewin, you felt that was probably game up and I think I even said to Ste “let’s grab another, goal difference might end up being important”. I really should know by now though that Everton never, ever, sail through these waters, and I should have expected us to sink. If you can’t see out a game against a 10 man team from the Cypriot league, what hope have you got? A straightforward ball from a free kick was easily headed in by Hector Yuste to level the scores. You were just stunned.

With five minutes (including stoppage time) still on the clock, you hoped for one more good chance, and along came a golden one when Nikola Vlasic’s superb ball was on a plate for Dominic Calvert-Lewin to head in from six yards, though he instead contrived to head straight at the goalkeeper, and with that, the opportunity for a win had come and gone. And you just knew it.

We trudged off shaking our heads. It’s disappointing and all we can do is pick ourselves up and win our next game at home to Burnley, which, let’s be fair, is hardly a given. The Europa League campaign doesn’t have to be doom and gloom just yet but we are certainly doing it the hard way. If Goodison Park can be at it’s hostile best for home games against Lyon and Atalanta we may have a few magical nights at Goodison Park yet, and we may have found form by the time we travel to Lyon and Limassol respectively, but Jesus, that was just, so, Everton.

Player ratings:

Pickford: Pretty helpless with the goals. Distribution pretty good. 6

Baines: Seemed to grow into the game. 6

Williams: Poor. A bit better and braver second half but will rue his big mistake. 4

Holgate: When you have a senior pro playing alongside a young centre back you want the senior player to nurture the younger one along a bit, but, after a shaky start from Mason, you felt it was more the other way round. Mason showed good composure on the ball on several occasions and was certainly the better of the two centre backs. 7

Kenny: Did OK, probably capable of better and perhaps needed to offer more in attacking areas but he didn’t do badly. 6

Gueye: I thought he was one of our better performers in the first half and I was surprised to see him substituted at the break. That said, we should have began the game with that which started the second half. Why on earth are we beginning with two defensive midfielders at home to Limassol? 6

Schneiderlin: Did OK, but very much playing within himself for me. 6

Sigurdsson: He’s getting there. Seems to be close to full fitness now. He certainly has a good engine on him. He’s making good runs, getting into good positions and using the ball well. The assist will have done him some good and I can see him really coming along these next few games. 7

Davies: While he did a few loose passes and not everything worked, I thought he was one of our better performers and I was surprised by the stick he was getting from some of the people around me. 6

Rooney: Did pretty well throughout really. Won’t get many easier goals than that! 7

Sandro: Struggled. He maybe shouldn’t have started as Dominic Calvert-Lewin would have given them a lot more to worry about I think. Tried though. 5


Vlasic (for Gueye): While I say now is not the time to experiment and we need to be getting our best team on the pitch as much as we can, I make an exception with Vlasic, as he looks an excellent and exciting player who can make a difference in tight games. Get him in the team Ronald. My man of the match. 7

Calvert-Lewin (for Sandro): He will be gutted not to have netted the winner late on. All he can do is pick himself up and make up for it on Sunday. I think he should have started the game. We would have caused them more problems from the beginning had he have done so. Regardless of his miss, he did make a big difference in the time he had on the pitch. 6

Klaassen (for Davies): Did OK and got involved. Will feel a bit guilty for giving away the free kick but we should have defended it better than that! 6

Paul Traill

Match Preview

Everton resume their Europa League campaign tomorrow evening with a home fixture against Apollon Limassol needing to get three points on the board following the debacle against Atalanta.

The Blues' 3-0 reverse in Italy has increased the pressure on them to win their three games at Goodison Park in order to have the best chance to progress to the knockout phase but, unlike their last European match, they come into this clash with the Cypriots in a better frame of mind.

Back-to-back wins against Sunderland and Bournemouth have lifted the mood at Finch Farm and provided a timely confidence boost for the players.

“We had a difficult run of games at the start of the season but I think as a team we were never worried that we wouldn't get back together,” Mason Holgate said in a joint press conference with manager Ronald Koeman today.

“We know we're a good strong team and we've got the ability, once we're firing, to cause any team trouble. So I think we've got ourselves back together now and we're looking forward to moving on.

“That's what football's all about — once you'e got a few wins, confidence starts coming in and it looks like things start dropping a little bit for you and I think that's what's happening now.”

Koeman echoed the young defender's sentiments regarding the two positive results. “Of course, it's really important,” he said. You like to play full of confidence and the confidence of the players — they get it from themselves first and, secondly, they get it from good results.

“I think the wins in the last two games, against Sunderland and the last one against Bournemouth, are important but this is a different competition. We need to react because the final result in Italy was not the Everton we like.”

Everton will have do without Saturday's two-goal hero, Oumar Niasse, however, who is ineligible for this phase of the Europa League because he wasn't included in the squad the club submitted to Uefa prior to the registration deadline.

The Senegal striker took the chance offered him in the League Cup last week to put the cherry on top of a 3-0 win over Sunderland by scoring the third goal and his first in Everton colours. But he was vital to the Blues at the weekend when he rescued the side with a brace to beat Bournemouth and ease the growing pressure on Koeman following a poor start to the new season.

“We had to make that decision a long time ago and at that time his situation was not the situation [as it is] now,” the Dutchman said of Niasse's omission from the squad for Europe.

Focus will switch back to Koeman's chosen formation, how he uses Dominic Calvert-Lewin, a hero in his own right in the last two games with a brace against the Black Cats and a good performance leading the line against the Cherries, and perhaps to Sandro Ramirez who has yet to catch fire in England since making the switch to Goodison from Malaga over the summer.

The Spaniard was an unused substitute on Saturday, the first time he has been fit but not played since he arrived, but, like another new signing Nikola Vlasic, he will be hoping to be involved at some stage against Limassol.

As usual, Koeman has plenty of options in attacking midfield where much attention will be devoted to how many “No.10s” he can fit into his starting XI and how much he rotates of personnel with one eye on another important league game on Sunday against Burnley.

His options are fewer in defence, where “[the injury situation has not changed],” according to Koeman. “Still Michael Keane and Phil (Jagielka) are not available for tomorrow and they are doubtful for the weekend.” Both players trained separately from the main group this morning, as did James McCarthy who isn't scheduled to resume full training again until Friday. That will almost certainly see Mason Holgate continue alongside Ashley Williams at centre-half and leave the choice between Cuco Martina and Jonjoe Kenny as the only real decision.

In goal, Maarten Stekelenburg was the chosen cup ‘keeper in Atalanta and he is likely to be named as the starter between the posts again.

Presumed to be the underdogs in the group, Apollon secured a draw in their opener against Lyon two weeks ago and Koeman's comments at the presser suggested that he won't be underestimating them.

“It's a team who like to play football, that's really comfortable on the ball,” he said. They had a point against Lyon which was a good result for them.

“We have analysed the team. It won't be easy for us. They're an aggressive team, they like to press but, more important, it's about ourselves. You respect the opponent but we need to play better. We need to be more aggressive. We're playing at home and we need the win.”

Anything short of that, of course, would put Everton seriously behind the proverbial eight ball and put significant pressure on them to get a victory in one of the two remaining away games as well as getting favourable results at home to Lyon and Atalanta.

If they can take the confidence gleaned from the last two games, employ the passing that was a feature of some of their play against Bournemouth and create enough chances, then they should have enough to claim the points. Therein likes the rub, though — Koeman's Everton simply don't fashion enough goalscoring opportunities and he has yet to settle on a line-up that resolves that significant handicap.

Kick-off: 8.05pm, Thursday 28 September, 2017
Predicted line-up: Stekelenburg, Martina, Holgate, Williams, Baines, Schneiderlin, Gueye, Vlasic, Sigurdsson, Rooney, Calvert-Lewin

Lyndon Lloyd

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Bournemouth (A) Burnley (H)
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  Gueye (Vlasic 46')
  Davies (Klaassen 67')
  Ramirez (Calvert-Lewin 67')
  Subs not used
  Barkley (injured)
  Bolasie (injured)
  Coleman (injured)
  Funes Mori (injured)
  Jagielka (injured)
  Keane (injured)
  McCarthy (injured)
  Niasse (ineligible)
  Tarashaj (injured)
  Browning (loan)
  Dowell (loan)
  Galloway (loan)
  Onyekuru (loan)
  Pennington (loan)
  J. Williams (loan)
  Vasilou (Zelaya 83')
  Jakolis (Schembri 61')
  Sachetti (Santana 77')
  De Souza
  Subs not used
  Da Silva

Match Stats

Shots on target

Group E Scores
Everton 2-2 A Limassol
Lyon 1-1 Atalanta


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