Advertisement

Too little too late as Ademola Lookman leads Everton to first Europa League win

Too little too late as Ademola Lookman leads Everton to first Europa League win
From ESPN - December 7, 2017

A young and much-changed Everton squad ended their wretched Europa League campaign on a belated positive note as Ademola Lookman's and Nikola Vlasic's exciting attacks secured a 3-0 win against Apollon Limassol.

The seven substitutes, who had each yet to boast a minute of first-team football before this match, did not underline massive change for the team as Everton's core group was preparing for the upcoming Merseyside derby. Neither manager Sam Allardyce nor any of the starting XI from the 2-0 win against Huddersfield traveled to Cyprus for this match.

Ironically, in their stead, this mix of fringe players and young prospects delivered the elusive win and clean sheet that evaded the established first-team players in the previous five group games. In the end, finishing a very distant third to Atalanta and Lyon, Everton can only rue what might have been.

Positives

Everton possess considerably more spending power than in recent years, but there is much to admire about the continued supply of academy prospects supplementing the first team and the big-money signings.

On a night when this mishmash team confounded the style critics to fashion a 26-move that saw every player touch the ball in the build-up to the second goal, there were five players making their debuts in total. There were numerous encouraging performances from a starting XI with an average age of 23.

Negatives

Three points and a clean sheet in the final group game cannot distract from the results and performances preceding this match. Four defeats and 15 goals conceded in five games tell a miserable tale. Even in victory, Everton exit the competition with the worst points tally by any English team in the Europa League group stage. Out of Europe by December was not in the script when Everton began playing in the qualifying rounds in July.

Manager rating out of 10

7 -- First-team coaches Craig Shakespeare and Duncan Ferguson oversaw a convincing win and the three-goal cushion allowed them to give three youngsters their debuts from the bench.

Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Joel Robles, 7 -- Slow to react to one early Apollon attack before settling down behind an inexperienced defence. Several good first-half saves helped Everton claim their first clean sheet of the group stage.

DF Beni Baningime, 6 --His positioning was occasionally suspect in an unfamiliar right-back role, but the midfielder otherwise continued to show the determination and composure that has punctuated his recent appearances in midfield.

Advertisement

Continue reading at ESPN »