Ademola Lookman’s first-half double ensured Everton ended their Europa League campaign on a high note with a 3-0 victory at Apollon Limassol.
In the absence of manager Sam Allardyce, Craig Shakespeare oversaw an experimental Everton side claim their first win in Group E to leapfrog the Cypriot side into third.
Lookman ended his run of 20 games without a goal when heading Everton in front (21), and he added a second seven minutes later when firing in from distance.
Liverpool vs Everton
December 10, 2017, 1:00pm
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Nikola Vlasic scored a late third (87) for Everton, who avoided becoming the first English club to endure a winless Champions League or Europa League group-stage campaign.
Apollon: Kissas (7), Pedro (6), Pitian (5), Roberge (6), Jander (6), Allan (6), Sachetti (6), Martinez (5), Sardinero (6), Schembri (6), Papoulis (7)
Subs: Zelaya (6), Jakolis (6), Pittas (6)
Everton: Joel (7), Baningime (6), Feeney (6), Besic (6), Charsley (7), Klaassen (7), Schneiderlin (7), Vlasic (7), Mirallas (7), Lookman (7), Hornby (6)
Subs: Broadhead (n/a), Gordon (n/a), Denny (n/a)
Man of the match: Ademola Lookman
The visitors looked lively from the off, with Lookman shooting straight at Tasos Kissas before the Apollon ‘keeper made a superb save to deny Harry Charsley a debut goal.
Everton were rewarded for their bright start midway through the half when Vlasic played a tidy one-two with Kevin Mirallas before crossing in for Lookman, who powered in a header at the back post.
Seven minutes later, Lookman had his second after rounding off a 26-pass move with a powerful strike from outside the area.
Everton made wholesale changes ahead of the Merseyside derby on Sunday, with debuts handed to Harry Charsley and Fraser Hornby, while Morgan Schneiderlin captained the experimental side.
After half-time, Lookman only had eyes for his hat-trick after seeing his attempt from a narrow angle saved when he perhaps should have rolled it over for Vlasic to tap in.
But Vlasic did get the goal his performance deserved in the 87th minute, as he rounded defender Andrei Pitian before sliding it past Kissas.
- Everton’s starting XI in this game (23y 015d) was the youngest by an English club in Europe (excl. qualifiers) since Everton vs BATE Borisov in the Europa League in December 2009 (22y 319d).
- Everton ended their Europa League group stage with four points from six games – only one English team have picked up fewer in a European competition group stage (Manchester City won three points in their 2012-13 Champions League Group).
- This was the lowest points tally 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 have now won three successive matches in all competitions – the same tally of wins that they recorded in their previous 20 competitive matches combined (W3 D5 L12).
Man of the match – Ademola Lookman
With Everton’s fringe players looking to impress Allardyce, albeit with the manager absent due to a medical appointment, it was Lookman who stole the show in the opening 45 minutes.
The 20-year-old ended his goal drought in style, netting twice in the space of seven minutes, while his overall link-up play with Vlasic and Mirallas – two more standout performers – was excellent, given the nature of this make-shift side.
Everton turn their attention to Sunday’s Merseyside derby against Liverpool at Anfield. Coverage starts on Sky Sports Premier League from 1pm, which kick-off at 2.15pm.
Derby Day is coming on Sky Sports, with Manchester United taking on Manchester City and Liverpool playing hosts to Everton.