This week – 15 years ago

Back to nice round numbers this week in 2007 as Everton made the long trip to Kharkiv hoping to finally make progress in Europe

David Hardman 04/10/2022 12comments  |  Jump to last

Back to nice round numbers this week in 2007 as Everton made the long trip to Kharkiv hoping to finally make progress in Europe

2 years earlier, Everton’s European travels had seen them suffer frustration in Villarreal and humiliation in Bucharest, bowing out of both European competitions without even reaching the group stages. It was hoped it would be third time lucky for David Moyes against Metalist Kharkiv in the Uefa Cup.

But it looked like Everton might have already blown their chance in the home leg. Andy Johnson, who’d managed only 4 goals from open play since the previous September (as mentioned in the ’06 derby piece a few weeks back!), missed 2 penalties late on, meaning that the 1-1 draw had the opponents ahead on away goals going into the return leg.

Metalist then took an early lead in their home tie, but this time Everton wouldn’t be denied. Goals from Lescott and McFadden put Everton ahead, and, more crucially, meant they now had the advantage when it came to away goals. The equaliser from Kharkiv wouldn’t change the outcome. It did, however, make for a much more nervous closing stage.

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Then, in stoppage time, Victor Anichebe found himself through on goal, and, in what seemed to be slow motion at the time, took numerous touches to evade the goalkeeper and backtracking defenders, before sliding the ball into the now empty net. Progress in Europe at last!

It paved the way for a campaign that I still look back on fondly – memorable wins in Nuremberg, Alkmaar and Bergen, Everton also beat eventual Uefa Cup winners, Zenit St Petersburg, at Goodison (in the bizarre format of a single round robin 5-team group that they had at the time). In the last 16, they managed to bring back a 0-2 deficit against Fiorentina, only to suffer elimination on penalties at the end of the game.

While it felt like an epic campaign, it’s worth noting that they made no further progress than they had in their Cup Winners Cup adventure 12 years earlier, bowing out in the last 16 in both. Difference was that back then it took only those 2 matches against Reykjavik to reach the last 16, which was settled in early November. Now it took 8 games, and would only be played in March. And they accuse English football of playing too many matches!

Going back to that night in Kharkiv, though, and I can still remember feeling slightly unsettled by Moyes’s interview after the game, in which he said something to the effect of “I’ve always wanted to get a team in to Europe and keep them there.”

Instead of talking about how great it was for the club and its fans to have more European nights to look forward to, he talked as though his only concern was ticking a box and bolstering his CV. His comments could be interpreted as having a self-serving air to them, an early indicator of what was to come a few years later.

Back in 2007, though, you could only appreciate that his management had led the blues back on to the European map.

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Reader Comments (12)

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Lee Courtliff
1 Posted 04/10/2022 at 19:11:43
That was a 'great' season for us. A dodgy Sep and Oct was followed by some simply scintillating football, at times, all the way through to March.

We also had a good League Cup run and were only defeated, narrowly, by Chelsea in the semi-finals. This is along with pushing Liverpool for the final Champions League spot!

That defeated against Fiorentina derailed our season and we ultimately came up short. Barely won a game after that loss. I still believe that if we'd beaten Fiorentina then we could have finished above Liverpool and qualified for the CL.

We had a good team that year. A really good team, at times.

Barry Rathbone
2 Posted 04/10/2022 at 21:07:22
"Instead of talking about how great it was for the club and its fans to have more European nights to look forward to, he (Moyes) talked as though his only concern was ticking a box and bolstering his CV."

Always amazed me how he got away with this self-centred stuff for so long but his martyrdom act was a marvellous distractor something Larry Olivier would have struggled to match.

Paul Birmingham
3 Posted 04/10/2022 at 21:34:25
Wow, the years, have rolled on.

Some epic away games that season, and if.

I recall the Alkmaar game as being one if not the coldest match I've been to.

Looking back, it will invigorate Frank and his team to keep the focus and grow this Everton squad.

Big test on Sunday, let's see.

Danny O’Neill
4 Posted 05/10/2022 at 10:57:06
Unfortunately for me, during this period, I spent a lot of time waiting for Everton's results in far flung places.

Or Brechin. Or Salisbury Plain. In the rain.

The comment about Moye's interview shows how much Lampard has connected with the club and the fans. Of course he will have personal ambitions. Whether he is a success or not remains to be seen.

But if he get's us to Europe, I guarantee he will be bowled over by our support in the first round in some Hungarian outpost more than he ever witnessed at Chelsea on the big stage.

He talks about his players and the supporters much more than he does about himself.

John Raftery
5 Posted 05/10/2022 at 17:38:55
That trip was one of our best in Europe. I remember the price of a pint doubling in the course of the afternoon we spent in Freedom Square. We were paying over a quid just before the coaches picked us up to take us to the game.

Both the performance and the result were brilliant considering the amount of pressure we were under in the first half. For the eight hundred or so fans who travelled, the second half was unforgettable.

With the tie on a knife-edge going into the final minutes, joy was unconfined when Victor scored the goal which sealed our passage through to the group stage.

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
6 Posted 05/10/2022 at 20:34:23
I do remember that Vic goal. He was only 19 and he bullied their defence.
Jim Bennings
7 Posted 06/10/2022 at 09:35:11
We seemed to have an awful lot of striking options back then compared to now.

Don't get me wrong – they weren't world beaters but the likes of James Vaughan (when fit), Victor Anichebe, James McFadden, Andy Johnson were all really good able backups to Yakubu.

Of course, Tim Cahill was almost like a striker, such was his attack threat, and then there was Osman, Arteta, and Pienaar.

We had it good then and I'll reiterate, we should have either got that Champions League slot or won a cup with that group.

I truly think if we beat Fiorentina we'd have lifted the Uefa Cup, as all that stood in our way was PSV Eindhoven (who Rangers knocked out) and then Zenit in the final which was in Manchester.

Geoff Lambert
8 Posted 06/10/2022 at 09:39:14
Paul #3,

I remember Alkmaar, traveling from Amsterdam on the train all the windows were frozen. And my feet in the stadium were as cold as I can remember even with two pairs of socks on.

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
9 Posted 07/10/2022 at 11:14:09
Some vitriol here.

He had had two failures to get beyond the qualifiers and he was being constantly said to be not good enough. So now he had.

I presume any striker finally scoring for Everton is saying they have broken their duck, or got that monkey off their back because they now have on their CV that they can score in the Premier League and nothing more.

So many of us are rejoicing at the stability that Lampard has brought – we are now halfway back to where we were 10 years ago when we were the West Ham and Brighton of the day.

David West
10 Posted 07/10/2022 at 20:13:59
This was when they started to believe they were good enough to play in Europe. Vilarreal was heartbreaking. But that Fiorentina game was some match.

I'm not old enough to remember the Cup-Winners Cup run. I honestly thought we deserved the win against the Italians, the atmosphere in the Gwladys Street was one of my best nights in the old lady.

I think it was Moyes who took us back there, on basically fuck all – who was our most expensive player then? Yakubu? £11M?

I think he gets a rough deal from some parts of our support. Look what he's doing with West ham now, he's basically their greatest ever manager.

How he would of loved the £500M we have blown in the last few years; how many players like Lescot, Arteta, Pienaar, Stones, Cahill, Jagielka, and Coleman would we have?

I didn't begrudge him his chance at Man Utd, if he would've been smarter he should've waited as it was an impossible job following Ferguson. He should've been the 2nd or 3rd man after him and maybe he would 've been given a decent shot.

Rob Halligan
11 Posted 07/10/2022 at 20:19:35
What an epic journey that was. I actually listed it as one of my top three European away games.

Some might ask "Why would an away game to northeastern Ukraine be in a top three?"

But I doubt very much that I will do a journey, there and back, that could match those three nights in Ukraine.

Ben King
12 Posted 07/10/2022 at 20:37:17
David #10,

I agree - I've always thought the anti-Moyes vibe was harsh, unnecessary & childish.

He did really well on a shoestring and we had players we liked and had character.

The Walter Smith, Kendall Mk 2 & Mk 3, and Mike Walker years were far worse. As were the Bobby Martinez, Fat Sam, Koeman & Benetiz years.

Oh how we would love to be in Europe again….

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