Three excellent finishes from Kevin Mirallas, Aaron Lennon and Kieran Dowell gave Everton a comfortable victory as they continue to build towards the start of the new domestic season and the Europa League campaigns.
Everton travelled to Holland for their second pre-season friendly game against FC Twente, staged at the training ground of SV De Lutte, that attracted a ‘sell-out’ crowd including a healthy contingent of travelling Blues supporters.
Ronald Koeman selected a starting line-up of Stekelenburg, Baines, Williams, Keane, Kenny, McCarthy, Barry (C), Davies, Mirallas, Lookman and Calvert-Lewin.
A bright opening saw Everton applying all the early pressure with Barry finding McCarthy and his through ball for Lookman just having too much on it. DCL and Mirallas both somehow managed to spurn shooting opportunities in the penalty area ahead of another fine ball from Barry down the left channel enabling DCL to win a corner that was wasted.
Everton wasted a second corner in identical fashion, playing it short, while Williams and Keane were in the box awaiting the longer ball.
Just past the quarter hour mark with the Blues on top, Tom Davies worked the ball from his left to right before curling a shot from the edge of the box, just wide of the target.
The home sides first real chance came on twenty minutes as Holler got in behind Baines on the right but he skewed his cross goal shot well wide with no issue for Stekelenburg to worry about.
James McCarthy got away with something of a rash challenge in midfield after he’d given the ball away and the Blues just began to lose a bit of the rhythm that had given them a decent start to the game.
DCL was clattered from behind in an aerial challenge and needed some treatment, but was able to carry on, while the home side made two quick substitutions as they sought to get their squad some valuable minutes.
Ademola Lookman, who’d looked lively throughout the opening half crashed in a right foot shot that was parried and cleared ahead of more persistence from DCL that saw another corner gained. Mirallas swung it over, DCL flicked on but Michael Keane was unlucky to see his hooked effort clear the crossbar.
Five minutes before half time, FC Twente were awarded a free kick right on the edge of the Everton penalty area and dead centre for a hand ball by Keane and were lucky and pleased to see the deftest of efforts clear the wall but cannon to safety off the top of the cross bar with Stekelenburg nowhere near it.
This proved just the spur Everton needed and they grabbed the lead three minutes later as Kevin Mirallas picked the ball up on the left, cut inside, took aim and planted an absolute peach of a shot into the top right hand corner.
A first half played at a decent pace, and thankfully without any of the threatened rain, saw the Blues lead at the break.
Half Time: 0-1
Callum Connolly and Phil Jagielka replaced Baines and Keane respectively for the second half that continued where the first left off, played at a decent pace and no lack of competitiveness from both sides.
Williams needed to be quick to throw himself full stretch to cut out a left wing cross as Twente tried to get at the Blues down the flanks.
Everton with DCL looking much more comfortable up front than playing out wide gave the home side another chance that saw Stekelenburg save with his shoulder from short range before gathering the loose ball.
A rash challenge by Connolly saw him get a whack on the head from a flailing boot before Ronald Koeman rang the changes introducing Cuco Martina, Davy Klaassen, Morgan Schneiderlin, Mo Besic, Kieran Dowell, Gana Gueye, Aaron Lennon and Wayne Rooney for the last half hour.
A nice move involving Besic, Klaassen, Dowell and Rooney ended with Gana Gueye firing just wide as the Blues looked to extend their lead.
Cuco Martina had settled well on the right side and was keen to get forward in support of the energetic Dowell, fresh from his glorious strike in Tanzania.
But it was Aaron Lennon who doubled the Blues lead on 72 minutes as he won the ball on the left, cut into the box and with the aid of a slight deflection, his shot beat the goalie to nestle inside the far post. It was great to see Lennon on the scoresheet, the goal welcomed warmly by his team mates and the healthy crowd.
Better was to come though with ten minutes left on the clock as a fine right wing move saw Martina and Gueye combine to set up Kieran Dowell who took the pass, stepped inside and placed an inch-perfect left footer well beyond the despairing drive of the goalie.
Rooney found Dowell with a raking crossfield ball and the youngsters cross was headed on target by Davy Klaassen, but straight at the goalie.
Rooney then showed in the dying moments that he still has fire in his belly with a full-blooded lunge that saw a huge divot of turf uprooted and thankfully no contact on the opposition player.
Full Time: 0-3
Another good work out for the squad with only Maarten Stekelenburg playing the full ninety minutes, with some fine showings from Lookman, DCL and Kieran Dowell in particular and a solid first half from Keane and the evergreen Gareth Barry.
Next stop is Genk in Belgium on Saturday before the Blues return home to prepare for next Thursday’s opening game in the Europa League.