Atalanta 3-0 Everton: Toffees humbled in Europa League opener
By Jack Wilkinson
Last Updated: 15/09/17 6:29am
Everton endured a torrid start to their Europa League campaign as Atalanta inflicted a demoralising 3-0 defeat on Thursday.
The Serie A club had not played European football in 26 years but made up for lost time as Andrea Masiello, Alejandro Gomez and Bryan Cristante fired them into a three-goal half-time lead.
And there was no way back for the Toffees in their Group E opener as they were outran and outmuscled in every department by their hungrier opponents.
It was the worst possible start to European football under Ronald Koeman, who has to pick his side off the ground ahead their trip to high-flying Manchester United on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League.
The hosts flew out of the traps at the Mapei Stadium - 120 miles away from their home ground, which is being renovated - but having weathered the storm, Everton sprang into life.
Gylfi Sigurdsson stung the palms of Marco Wolfli on 12 minutes before Wayne Rooney's lob whistled over the bar. However, the Toffees' bright spell was momentary.
Ronald Koeman has made six changes to the side that lost 3-0 at home to Tottenham, with Maarten Stekelenburg, Phil Jagielka, Mason Holgate, Muhamed Besic, debutant Nikola Vlasic and Dominic Calvert-Lewin drafted in.
Maarten Stekelenburg produced a fine point-blank save to prevent Masiello from putting the dominant hosts ahead of 25 minutes, but, two minutes later, the defender was not to be denied as he poked the ball home at the back post after a corner deflected off Phil Jagielka.
Gomez underlined Atalanta's superiority with a stunning curling effort from 20 yards on 41 minutes, before Cristante put the game beyond the woeful visitors a minute before the break, rounding off a flowing counter.
The onslaught continued after the interval as Andrea Petagna got in on the act, drawing Stekelenburg into action on 49 minutes before setting up Remo Freuler for a shot which cannoned off the bar shortly before the hour.
Atalanta: Berisha (7), Toloi (6), Masiello (8), Palomino (6), Cristante (8), Freuler (7), De Roon (6), Castagne (6), Hateboer (7), Gomez (8), Petagna (9)
Subs: Caldara (6), Kurtic (6), Cornelius (7)
Everton: Stekelenburg (8), Baines (5), Keane (6), Jagielka (6), Holgate (6), Schneiderlin (5), Rooney (7), Sigurdsson (5), Besic (4), Vlasic (6), Calvert-Lewin (6)
Subs: Klaassen (6), Ramirez (6), Mirallas (6)
Man of the Match: Andrea Petagna
Everton, who have never won in Italy or overturned a three-goal deficit in Europe, steadied the ship from there on but never looked like getting back into the contest as Atalanta saw out an emphatic victory on their long-awaited return to European football.
- English sides have lost 10 of their last 14 visits to Italy in European competition (W2 D2 L10).
- Everton have now lost all four of their away games in Italy without scoring a single goal.
- Everton have attempted just four shots on target in their last three competitive matches, while allowing their opponents 21 shots on target in these games.
- The Toffees conceded three goals in the first half of this game - the first time that they have conceded three times before half-time in a competitive fixture since November 2016 (0-5 vs Chelsea).
- Atalanta scored three goals in the first half of a European game for the first time ever.
1 - Everton are only the third English team to lose their opening group stage game of a Europa League season. Glum.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 14, 2017
Everton will aim to bounce back from Thursday's defeat when they travel to Manchester United on Nissan Super Sunday - live on Sky Sports Premier League - before looking to reignite their Europa League campaign against Apollon Limassol at Goodison Park on September 28.