Everton 2-2 Apollon Limassol: Ronald Koeman's men stutter again in Europe
Last Updated: 29/09/17 6:51am
Everton endured more Europa League misery as they were held to a 2-2 draw against 10-man Apollon Limassol at Goodison Park.
After losing their opening group game 3-0 to Atalanta, the nervy hosts looked to have the game wrapped up at 2-1 when Valentin Roberge was sent off but Hector Yuste headed home a dramatic late leveller.
Goodison Park was rocked when Adrian Sardinero put the Cypriots ahead but goals from Wayne Rooney and Nikola Vlasic looked to have salvaged the points for under-pressure Ronald Koeman - until Apollon struck late on.
It leaves Koeman's men with a job on their hands to qualify from Group E and means Everton are the first English side to pick up just one point after their first two Europa League group stage games.
Everton: Pickford (7), Kenny (6), Williams (5), Holgate (5), Baines (6), Gueye (6), Schneiderlin (6), Sandro (5), Davies (5), Sigurdsson (7), Rooney (7)
Subs: Vlasic (8), Calvert-Lewin (7), Klaasen (5)
Apollon: Vale (7), Pedro (6), Yuste (6), Roberge (5), Vasiliou (6), Allan (7), Sachetti (7), Alef (6), Jakolis (7), Maglica (7), Sardinero (7)
Subs: Zelayaat (6), Schembriat (6), Santanaat (6)
Man of the match: Nikola Vlasic
It was a very slow start by the hosts, and they were punished when Ashley Williams gave possession straight to Anton Maglica. From his cross from the right Adrian fired home from close range.
Everton needed some inspiration, but their equaliser was more down to luck than judgement.
Yuste played a horrendous back pass to his goalkeeper Bruno Vale that Rooney intercepted with a simple finish - his 40th goal in Europe.
Tom Davies and Gyfli Sigurdsson brought saves out of Vale in the last few moments of the first half, but Everton rarely threatened.
Ronald Koeman called for a big performance form his team and made just three changes, fielding a strong side. Jonjoe Kenny, Sandro Ramirez and Tom Davies returned to the side. There was no place for Oumar Niasse though, who wasn’t included in Everton’s Europa League squad at the registration process.
Koeman brought on Vlasic for Idrissa Gueye at the interval and he had an immediate impact. Rooney's pass ricocheted to Sigurdsson, and he fed Vlasic, who shot low past Vale.
The goal seemed to knock the visitors confidence and their chances of a result look slim when ex-Sunderland man Roberge was dismissed four minutes from time for a dangerous tackle on Everton substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
It looked game over for the Cypriots, but Yuste sensationally headed in to make it 2-2.
There was still time for Calvert-Lewin to fluff a headed chance from six yards as Everton left the field to a chorus of boos.
- There were just 118 seconds between Apollon Limassol's red card and their equaliser against Everton.
- Wayne Rooney is the first player to score a Europa League goal in consecutive seasons, but with different English clubs since Clint Dempsey (Fulham 2011-12, Tottenham 2012-13).
- Gylfi Sigurdsson recorded his first assist for Everton and his first assist from open play in all comps since March.
Man of the match - Nikola Vlasic
After a stodgy first-half showing, the introduction of the 19-year-old at the break was the catalyst for an improved performance. He looked busy across the front-line and tucked away his opportunity very nicely after being put through by Sigurdsson. It was a performance that will give Koeman a headache ahead of the visit of Burnley.
Koeman: "You can take positives out of the game - the performance of Nikola Vlasic, for instance. He is 19 but he brought energy and football, and it is so difficult if you have many players struggling. They are looking for the safe option.
I am disappointed because we had three points in our hands. We deserved the three points but it is a difficult situation."
Everton are back in action at Goodison Park on Super Sunday where they host Burnley, live on Sky Sports Premier League.