Despite a spirited second half effort, Everton’s progression in the Europa League looks highly unlikely following their second loss of the group stage from this absolutely must win game against free-scoring Olympique Lyonnais.
With the support of the board but with mounting pressure from the Goodison faithful, manager Ronald Koeman named a starting line-up of: Pickford, Martina, Williams (c), Keane, Holgate, Scheiderlin, Davies, Klaassen, Vlasic, Mirallas and Calvert-Lewin.
With just one loss from nine domestic games this season that has them lying sixth in Ligue 1 and with two draws in the Europa League, Lyon boss Bruno Genesio selected: Lopes, Tete, Marcelo, Diakhaby, Marcal, Tousart, Aouar, Traore, Fekir, Depay and Maolida.
The referee Bas Nijhuis and his assistants had travelled from Holland.
Just what Ronald Koeman and Everton didn’t want was to concede and certainly not early in this vital game, but sadly a rash and mistimed challenge by Holgate on Marcal gave the visitors a fifth minute penalty, coolly converted by Fekir.
Williams denied Lyon a possible second with an excellent tackle on Depay played in by Marcal.
The Blues tried to respond with Vlasic firing high off a Keane header from a Holgate free kick and Mirallas playing a nice one-two with Davies to see his low shot go narrowly wide.
Everton were struggling to get any real rhythm into their play and didn’t win their first corner until the half hour mark. Another nice one-two between Mirallas and Davies saw Lopes manage to turn the Mirallas effort away for a second corner.
A free kick given against Schneiderlin for a foul on Fekir saw the 30-yard shot from Depay deflected before cannoning to safety off the crossbar.
A nice pass from Holgate saw Vlasic roll his defender superbly, but he snatched at the shot that went wide.
Everton should have equalised when Klaassen latched onto a loose pass, but he hesitated momentarily and Lopes was able to get a hand to his low shot.
Pickford came up with a key save to deny Depay put through by Fekir, before another good link between Holgate and Vlasic ended with Mirallas just unable to get to the low cross.
Half Time: 0-1
Ademola Lookman for the largely ineffective Davy Klaassen was the half time change for the Blues, a move much welcomed by the home crowd desperate to see some genuine pace out wide.
Everton began to increase the tempo with Holgate, Davies and Vlasic all working hard to pressure their opponents, and Lookman almost netting with his first touch of the ball.
A slip by Keane let Depay in but the England international was quick enough to recover and get back to deny the Dutchman a shot. The next Lyon attack saw Schneiderlin and Pickford collide denying Depay again, with Scheiderlin injured and subsequently replaced on 56 minutes by Sigurdsson.
The game erupted on 64 minutes as Williams collided with Lopes knocking him off the pitch and Lyon reacted angrily with Traore rushing in. A melee ensued with punches thrown by both Williams and Traore, but incredibly the lenient Dutch referee saw fit to only wave yellow cards at them both.
Sandro Ramirez replaced Mirallas on 68 minutes before a superbly flighted free kick from the right by Sigurdsson was powerfully met by the forehead of Williams for the equaliser.
Lyon immediately sent Cornet on for Maolida before another Sigurdsson free kick, this time from the left, came back off the post and was cleared.
Such is Everton’s luck this season though that the next raid by Lyon saw them retake the lead as the fresh legs of substitute Cornet got to the byeline and his cut back was back heeled home by Traore at the near post.
Lopes went low to his left to deny DCL as Everton tried to respond and Pickford had to make a fine double save to deny Ferri as Lyon broke quickly looking to kill the game.
Disappointingly, Everton couldn’t find a second equaliser and they now need to win all three remaining games to have any chance of going forward.
The Blues will rue the Sigurdsson cross that hit the post and not making enough of the momentum following the melee that certainly sparked life into them.
Despite the spirited effort, sparked largely by the Williams/Traore incident, it has to be said that the Blues still looked out of sorts for the opening half hour and that allowed Lyon to settle into the game with the bonus of the early goal in their pocket.
But it also has to be said that Lyon were theatrical in the extreme with some of their diving and feigning injury, so the return game in two weeks time could be a feisty affair.