Everton 2-2 Apollon Limassol

Everton came from behind but came up short thanks to a late equaliser from Yuste after the visitors had been reduced to ten men.

After two wins in two games, Everton turned their attention to the Cyprus based Apollon Limassol and getting their Europa League campaign fully up and running. Ronald Koeman promised a strong line-up playing with more aggression and he opted for a 4-4-2 naming: Pickford, Baines (c), Williams, Holgate, Kenny, Gana Gueye, Schneiderlin, Davies, Sigurdsson, Rooney and Ramirez.

Limassol coach Sofronis Avgousti with a draw against Lyon under his belt from the opening round selected a 4-4-2 of: Vale, Vasileiou, Roberge, Yuste, Pedro, Allan, Alef, Sachetti, Maglica and Sardinero.

Referee Tamas Bognar and his mates with flags and spare whistles had travelled from Hungary.

A very tentative opening saw the visitors show they were far from being a pushover as they closed Everton quickly and looked comfortable and quick on the ball.

A bad error on 12 minutes by Ashley Williams saw him lose possession to Maglica and his quick cross found Sardinero in space in the penalty area although he needed two bites at the cherry to beat Pickford for the opening goal.

Everton tried to respond with a quick ball out by Pickford quickly relayed onto Ramirez by Gana Gueye and his cross field ball picked out Rooney on the right, but he miskicked his cross as Ramirez headed into the area.

Somewhat fortuitously, Everton were on level terms on 20 minutes as a woeful backpass from Pedro ran nicely into the path of Wayne Rooney and he had the simplest of tasks to slide the ball home.

Ramirez then found Kenny in space on the right and his cross to the back post was headed back by Davies for Rooney to misjudge a bicycle kick, the goalie saving easily as Sigurdsson finally got a shot on target.

Rooney needed some treatment on his left arm, but soldiered on with DCL ready to replace him if needed.

Schneiderlin picked out Davies wide on the left and he stepped inside his marker to fire a long range curler that the Limassol goalie Vale was happy to punch away.

A Sigurdsson free kick on the edge of the box was also punched away by the goalie as Everton ended the half somewhat better than they had started it, but this was far from the performance many inside Goodison had expected.

Half Time: 1-1

Nikola Vlasic was a half time substitute coming on for Gana Gueye, dropping into midfield to allow Sigurdsson to push higher up the pitch.

There was more urgency about the Blues, but the visitors were putting up stubborn resistance with Sachetti testing Pickford from distance.

Vlasic was proving lively and pacy on the left flank linking with Baines before firing wide of the near post. The Blues were ahead on possession but still lacking that final killer ball and goal threat.

Williams to Vlasic to Rooney in space to cross from the left, but nobody in the middle to get on the end of it was symptomatic of the lack of cutting edge.

But good pressure from Sigurdsson finally saw the ball fall kindly for Vlasic and his controlled turn and quick look up saw him coolly find the net for his maiden goal and the Blues in front on 66 minutes.

Koeman immediately withdrew Ramirez and Davies for Calvert-Lewin and Klaassen respectively as he sought to put the game to bed.

Vlasic again looked the most likely with a good turn on the right and powerful shot that the goalie was happy to smother. A quick break saw Rooney find DCL and he resisted Rooney’s call for the return ball to send in a 25-yard curler that went inches wide.

Into the final minutes and Roberge saw a straight red card for a challenge on DCL, but the visitors put that out of their heads as moments later Pedro floated a free kick for Yuste to guide beyond the reach of Pickford for the late equaliser.

All in all, this was a largely disappointing performance again from the Blues, with the exception of Holgate, Kenny and the impressive hard work, energy and desire shown by Nikola Vlasic.

Full Time: 2-2

Manager Ronald Koeman was visibly vexed when he commented after the game, “The feeling is a defeat today, not even a draw. It is really disappointing. We started poorly without any confidence and making a lot of mistakes but we had a good reaction.

“The second half was much better, we controlled the game and had big chances to score a third. It is football and sometimes when you are struggling maybe we are too afraid to play football. That is difficult when your body is not full of confidence.

“I cannot say they are not running or fighting, but they are scared to play forward. A win today makes it different.”

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