Everton 2-0 Hadjuk Split: Goals from Michael Keane and Idrissa Gueye give Ronald Koeman's side advantage
By Oliver Yew
Last Updated: 18/08/17 9:43am
Everton took a significant step towards the Europa League group stages after a 2-0 victory over Hajduk Split in the first leg of their Europa League play-off tie at Goodsion Park.
During a first-half that was briefly stopped because of ugly scenes in the away end, Everton took full control thanks to goals from Michael Keane and Idrissa Gueye.
The visitors put in an improved performance in the second half and Everton. who face Manchester City, live on Sky Sports Premier League on Monday Night Football, needed Jordan Pickford to deny Hamza Barry, Ante Erceg and Hysen Memolla as Ronald Koeman's side held on to keep a clean sheet to take a two-goal advantage to the Stadion Poljud for next Thursday's second leg.
Everton, who presented club-record signing Gylfi Sigurdsson to the Goodison Park crowd before kick-off, started brightly and it was the lively Ademola Lookman, who created the first real opening, firing a low cross across the face of goal for Davy Klaasen, but the Dutchman failed to get a touch as the ball rolled away to safety.
Home Team: Pickford (8), Martina (7), Keane (8), Williams (7), Baines (7), Schneiderlin (7), Gueye (8), Mirallas (6), Klaassen (7), Lookman (7), Rooney (7).
Subs: Davies (7), Besic (n/a), Calvert-Lewin (6).
Away Team: Stipica (7), Rosa (6), Juranovic (6), Nizic (6), Memolla (7), Radosevic (6), Kozulj (6), Gentsoglou (6), Barry (8), Vlasic (7), Zoa (6).
Subs: Basic (n/a), Said (6), Erceg (6).
Man of the match: Michael Keane
The hosts' dominance was eventually rewarded when Baines drove to the byline before standing a cross up to the far post, where Keane rose high above the defender to head home for his first Everton goal.
The game was then stopped briefly as trouble flared up in the away end with the referee taking the players off the field, and after a five-minute delay play was back underway.
Everton doubled their lead just before the break when Wayne Rooney's inch-perfect through ball picked out the run of Gueye, who picked out the bottom corner.
And it could have got even better for Koeman's men just before the break but Rooney, played in by Klaasen, failed to beat Dante Stipica.
Everton, who switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation, made three changes from the side that beat Stoke City on Saturday with Cuco Martina, Kevin Mirallas and Ademola Lookman replacing Phil Jagielka, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Sandro Ramirez.
Everton, who replaced the cautioned Morgan Schneiderlin with Tom Davies at the break, needed Jordan Pickford to keep their clean sheet intact in the 61st minute and the England U21 stopper got down smartly to his right to palm Barry's shot to safety.
Pickford was called into the action again late on, denying Erceg after sloppy play from Rooney and Memolla's long-range strike as Everton held on to secure a crucial first leg advantage.
- Everton have won their first four matches of a season for the first time since 1978/79 when they were managed by Gordon Lee.
- The Toffees have now won 12 out of 14 home matches in 2017 in all competitions, one more than they managed in 23 games in 2016 (11).
- Wayne Rooney registered his first Everton assist since May 2004, when he set up Kevin Campbell for a goal against Manchester City in a 5-1 defeat on the final day of the 2003/04 Premier League season.
- Leighton Baines provided the cross for Michael Keane's goal, only his second assist in 24 matches for Everton in 2017.
- Idrissa Gueye scored only his third goal in 77 appearances since moving to English football in August 2015, and his second for Everton; his other came for Aston Villa against Wycombe in the FA Cup in January 2016.
- Everton have won four matches in a row without conceding a goal for the first time since September 2009.
- Jordan Pickford has kept three clean sheets in his first three Everton games, only two fewer than he managed in 35 appearances for previous club Sunderland.
Man of the Match - Michael Keane
The England defender put in an assured performance alongside Ashley Williams as Everton secured a crucial clean sheet on their way to a 2-0 victory.
He didn't put a foot wrong in defence and his range of passing was excellent, helping Everton build attacks from the back.
Keane also grabbed the crucial second goal, rising highest at the far post to head home Baines' cross to score his first goal for the club.
It's Monday Night Football action next for Everton, who travel to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City in the Premier League, before the return leg against Hadjuk Split next Thursday.
Watch Everton's clash with Manchester City on MNF, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 7pm.