Lookman's double helps Everton get off the mark in Europe
GSP Stadium, Europa League Group E – Apollon Limassol 0 Everton 3 (Lookman 21, 27, Vlasic 87)
Ademola Lookman scored a brace as Everton finally got off the mark in the Europa League with a comfortable victory over Apollon Limassol in Cyprus to end Group E on a high.
After four losses and a draw, the Toffees were unable to progress in the competition, and Sam Allardyce – who wasn’t present because of a "pre-arranged medical appointment" – took the opportunity to field a number of fringe players.
The inclusion of Lookman was one of 11 changes and the English forward grasped the opportunity with both hands as he fired a quick-fire double in the first half.
The opener came on 21 minutes when he headed home at the back post from Kevin Mirallas’ cross, and six minutes later he rifled a shot from 25 yards which the Apollon goalkeeper could only help into the net.
Everton took their foot off the pedal after the restart but Nikola Vlasic still managed to add a third in the dying stages after a mazy run to complete a productive night for the second string.
Allardyce will be pleased with the performance of his youngsters, with 18-year-old Morgan Feeney particularly impressing in defence.
The win means Everton leapfrog Apollon into third with four points, some way adrift of second-placed Lyon.
Everton's Nikola Vlasic celebrates scoring their third goal with Nathan BroadheadReuters
The future is bright at Everton: Just like Tottenham’s fringe players the previous night in the Champions League, Everton’s second string didn’t disappoint. The average age of the starting line-up was 22.7 and yet the occasion didn’t faze the youngsters. Better still, the average age of the bench was just 17.8 and sixteen-year-old Anthony Gordon even made a late cameo. Ronald Koeman spent over £100m on players during the summer as he overhauled the squad but perhaps he should have had more faith in the men/boys already in his ranks. After all, the Dutchman could only draw 2-2 with the same opponents at Goodison Park with his expensively assembled side.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Ademola Lookman (Everton) – Lookman wasn’t given much of an opportunity under Koeman but Allardyce appears more than willing to offer him minutes on the pitch. The 20-year-old will only grow in confidence after a wonderful performance and he can expect to start more games in the near future.
Apollon Limassol: Kissas 7, Pedro 6, Pitian 5, Roberge 5, Jander 5, Allan 7, Sachetti 6, Martinez 5, Sardinero 5, Schembri, 5 Papoulis 7. Subs: Zelaya 5, Pittas 5, Jakolis 5.
Everton: Joel 7, Baningime 6, Feeney 8, Besic 6, Charsley 7, Klaasen 7, Schneiderlin 7, Vlasic 7, Mirallas 8, Lookman 9, Hornby 7. Subs: Broadhead N/A, Denny N/A, Gordon N/A.
8’ - SAVED! A beautiful through ball from Klaasen picks out Lookman who times his run to perfection. His first touch takes him slightly wide but he cuts back onto his stronger right foot but sees his effort from point-blank range well saved by Kissas.
21’ - GOAL! Everton are ahead! Lookman was denied earlier on by the goalkeeper but he can't do anything about this effort. Mirallas plays a neat one-two with Vlasic and then picks out Lookman with a cross to the back post, with the midfielder heading the ball into the roof of the net.
27’ - GOAL! Lookman with a stunner! After a long spell of possession, Lookman has had enough and smashes an effort from 25 yards and to his surprise it finds the net! The goalkeeper gets a touch but couldn't keep it out.
53’ - Chance for Lookman's hat-trick! Lookman goes by Pitian with a step-over but instead of cutting the ball back to a team mate, he opts to shoot from a tight angle and Kissas blocks the effort.
87’ - GOAL! Vlasic grabs Everton's third! Vlasic wins the ball in midfield and races towards goal with lightning speed before slotting the ball between the legs of Kissas and into the back of the net. A terrific solo effort.
- Despite winning their final game, Everton's points tally was the lowest by an English club in a Europa League group stage (four points) – beating the previous worst set by Wigan Athletic in 2013-14 (five points).
- Everton's starting XI (23y 015d) was the youngest by an English club in Europe (excluding qualifiers) since Everton against BATE Borisov in the Europa League in December 2009 (22y 319d).
- Anthony Gordon (16y 286d) became only the second 16-year-old to play for an English club in the history of the Europa League, after Jake Bidwell (for Everton against BATE in December 2009).
- Ademola Lookman goal ended a run of 20 competitive appearances for Everton without scoring, since netting on his debut for the club in January against Man City.
- Lookman's second goal ended a sequence of 26 passes.