The Europa League decor went up at Goodison Park and Everton re-emerged from the hole they've been digging for themselves in the Premier League to win in Europe again. It took another stirring recovery from the concession of an early goal, a late penalty for handball and the eventual backing from the stands at Goodison Park – the Grand Old Lady morphed from a pit of angst to a bearpit in the second half – but the Blues will take a vital lead to Kyiv next week.
They would, of course, have preferred to have kept a clean sheet and removed away goals from Dynamo's side of the equation, but they will travel with the knowledge that one goal of their own in Kyiv's Olympic Stadium next week would significantly enhance Everton's chances of making the quarter finals of a European competition for the first time in 30 years.
Should they do so, it will largely be down to Romelu Lukaku. The size of the Belgian's price tag means that he has borne the bulk of the expectation and criticism for the team's struggles in the Premier League this season but his seven goals in as many Europa League games has already elevated him to the status of Everton's all-time leading goalscorer in Europe. Tonight, it was his sheer will and determination that set up the equaliser for Steven Naismith and his composure from the spot that allowed him to stroke home the goal that won this leg of the tie from the spot.
There were plenty of plaudits to go around, though, as Martinez's men shook off a frustratingly subdued start and grew into the contest with a performance that magnified in intensity and effectiveness until it peaked with about 20 minutes still to go. Phil Jagielka seemed to wear the frustrations of a wasted domestic season on his sleeve and, along with Lukaku and the seemingly omnipresent James McCarthy, he appeared to be dragging the Blues to victory through force of will with a towering display.
The captain might have had the opening goal, too, had Lukaku been a little more aware or less selfish when Oleksandr Shovkovskiy's rush of blood to the head left him stranded 30 yards from goal having been dispossessed by the Everton striker and his goal empty. The Belgian went for glory and missed badly while Jagielka, for some reason the furthest Blue shirt forward, was tearing forward on the overlap to his left.
As wayward as Lukaku's 33rd-minute effort may have been, it represented the first shot on goal from the home side after two uncharacteristically poor deliveries from corners by Luke Garbutt. At that stage, Martinez's side was a goal down and on the receiving end of the now familiar mix of groans and boos from the home fans as the team struggled for cohesion and momentum.
The manner in which they had conceded the goal hadn't helped. Antolin Alcaraz, playing in place of John Stones who was laid low with a virus, was at the centre of the defensive uncertainty that undermined Everton's start to the game. His failure to clear ball in the second minute led to a dangerous cross from the Kyiv left that Tim Howard pushed back into danger and it was an ill-advised header by the Paraguayan that required an intervention by McCarthy to slash the ball behind for a corner 12 minutes later.
From that set-piece, with the Blues' biggest men marking a clutch of Kyiv's supposed danger men beyond the penalty spot, Oleg Gusev ghosted from the back post to the front, while his marker Ross Barkley was blocked off from following him by another white shirt. That left the midfielder free to sweep the ball home inside Howard's near post from close range.
Everton eventually got their act together but not before Alcaraz had almost doubled the size of the mountain they were facing with an awful back-pass that almost put Dieumerci Mbokani in one-on-one in the box with Howard and the Amrican had pushed a low drive from Sergiy Sydorchuk around the post.
Lukaku had a direct free kick tipped over after Barkley had been felled in a dangerous area outside the Dynamo area and, from the resulting corner, Phil Jagielka had an excellent header cleared off the line and Alcaraz's first-time shot was deflected inches over the crossbar.
The Blues remained on the offensive, though, with an increased tempo and directness that has been the hallmark of their Continental campaign and which galvanised a crowd that had grown audibly agitated at the sideways and backwards passing that littered the first half hour. As a result, they pulled level six minutes before the break. Lukaku out-muscled his marker and set off for the opposition penalty area in typical fashion, determinedly shrugging off three robust challenges before poking the ball forward to Naismith. The Scot made no mistake with the finish, side-footing expertly past Shovkovskiy.
It was Naismith's second Europa League goal – third if you count his crucial involvement in the first goal in the home game against Wolfsburg, which was officially accredited as an own goal to Ricardo Rodriguez – and it encapsulated the dilemma over Martinez's formation as it relates to his forward players. Naismith has been in iffy form of late – to be honest, he was far below his best tonight, too – and his presence alongside Barkley robs the team of width down the left but he pops up with important goals.
That weakness down the left flank, where once Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar formed a lethally effective combination, was frequently noticeable in this contest where a number of over-lapping runs by Garbutt were ignored by both Naismith and Barkley – perhaps because they reflexively look to attack down the centre now or move the ball to the right. No surprise, then that as Everton finished the first half strongly it was from the right flank that another great opportunity to score opened up for Kevin Mirallas but he couldn't pick out a blue jersey from the byline.
The Toffees had the bit between their teeth now and they started the second period with the same forward intent that had characterised the last 10 minutes of the first. Alcaraz tried his luck from 30-odd yards with a raking shot that the 'keeper initially spilled before gathering at the second attempt, Naismith glanced a header just wide , Shovkovskiy fisted away Garbutt's wicked free kick, Barkley had a shot blocked after a rare glimpse of attacking confidence from him, and Seamus Coleman drifted a header of his own just past the far post... all within 10 minutes of the restart.
Kyiv were largely on the back foot, spending long periods penned into their own half but Mbokani almost capitalised on hesitation by Howard from a corner but headed into the stantion behind the goal and Andriy Yarmolenko flashed a decent effort narrowly over from the edge of the box.
In between, Arouna Kone had come on for Everton to replace Mirallas who had, again, been a peripheral figure and the Ivorian saw a header saved from McCarthy's cross after Coleman had gone down in a heap in the Dynamo area before Barry was played in neatly by Naismith but scuffed his shot disappointingly wide.
Two more moments involving Lukaku almost engineered a second goal, the first a low shot from the angle that the goalkeeper smothered and then a nice one-two exchange with Naismith that would have given the Scot a great chance to put Everton ahead but he couldn't dig the ball out from between his feet and the chance was lost.
Having given their all since the half-hour mark, Martinez's men began to flag a little as the game moved into the last 20 minutes. Christian Atsu was stripped and ready to come on at one point to offer more pace and energy but when the second change was made it was Osman who got the nod.
The veteran midfielder has shown his ability to make an impact off the bench in the past and he proved to be the crucial difference for the Blues this evening. He was picked out with a brillant reverse pass by McCarthy that sent him to the byline and when his attempted cross was blocked by the arm of Danilo Silva, referee Carlos Velasco pointed to the spot.
Lukaku stepped up, stutter-stepped to prompt Shovkovskiy into diving to his right and then stroke his shot down the middle with enough power that it found net off the 'keeper's foot.
Perhaps due to fatigue or a desire not to get caught out at the back being too adverturous, the drive to increase the margin wasn't quite there in the remaining seven minutes but had Osman been able to get more than just a faint glance on a late header from the irrepressible Lukaku's cross, he might have capped an excellent cameo off the bench.
As it is, Everton will travel to Kyiv next Thursday with a one-goal aggregate lead and with the knowledge that Dynamo's need to attack might play into their counter-attacking hands.
More importantly, the victory and the manner of it provided another potential catalyst to the Blues' mis-firing domestic form. In many ways, the first third of this game felt like a Premier League fixture, right down to the poorly-conceded set-piece that echoed Olivier Giroud's goal off a corner at Arsenal 10 days ago. Unlike at the Emirates or at Stoke the following Wednesday, Everton found the resolve, the impetus and the wherewithal to not only claw their way back but find a way to win. It wasn't a vintage display by any means and with the number of direct balls forward it was very un-Martinez like but the desire and fight was there which was all-important.
The raucous atmosphere that developed over the course of the contest certainly helped. Once the effort on the field had become visible, Everton were roared on by a vociferous Goodison crowd that, if the like of which shows up again on Sunday, should ensure the points needed to secure safety from relegation will come from the six remaining home games.
If that particular corner has finally been turned, we'll find out against Newcastle at the weekend but, for now, the players have ensure that their European dream lives on.
Reader Comments (45)
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1 Posted 13/03/2015 at 06:07:33
However - well done, and letĂ‚s continue the winning ways on Sunday - but please give Barry a rest. I lost count of his stray passes...
2 Posted 13/03/2015 at 06:13:30
3 Posted 13/03/2015 at 06:31:44
We really have a top class striker, and he is well worth the price tag, it will be a hell of pity if our tactics fail to capitalize on the brilliant players we currently have.
Barkley and Lukaku should be absolutely terrorizing defenses with raw talent and natural physical power.
4 Posted 13/03/2015 at 07:11:33
Jags led by example and Lukaku (ignoring all his offsides) played like a 㿈 million striker. Naismith is our engine and If I was manager his name would always be first on the sheet. Howard, Barkley and Mirallas gave us what we have come to expect. Useless players that wouldn’t be anywhere near the starting 11 if we had a manager that was able to take charge of the dressing room.
Good to see Osman coming back and giving us a quality 20-min display. Hopefully the momentum can be carried into Sunday because we need 3 home wins to get to safety.
Make no mistake that it was the players who changed the tactics yesterday. RM and his philosophy are finished in the Premier and Europa Leagues. He can pack it in his suitcase and travel to the next town where they might believe his bullshit. Hopefully on Sunday the players play it their way and get the crowd into it from the first minute.
5 Posted 13/03/2015 at 07:33:44
6 Posted 13/03/2015 at 07:32:29
And he enjoyed himself a lot more when Kone was on. Lukaku was everywhere Ă‚â€“ knowing he had help up front so it wasn’t on his shoulders alone to lead the line.
With most of the team having average games last night, we’re still carrying a lot of poor form but I actually have no fear for the second leg. It’s the League that worries me still. I hope Roberto and the players can isolate what works well, and keep on doing it. Playing with pace and forward momentum suits us Ă‚â€“ I want to see that every week. Twice a week, in some cases.
7 Posted 13/03/2015 at 07:43:49
He’s a very frustrating manager and I’m not sure he has it in him to make a success of the PL, but I think it’s pretty shortsighted to say that Martinez has nothing to do with our progression in the Europa League.
8 Posted 13/03/2015 at 07:39:00
His touch is often shocking, as is his passing, but his head never goes down, his attitude and effort are fantastic, he doesnĂ‚t switch off until the final whistle and he makes things happen when weĂ‚re lacking momentum.
If Mirallas gave half as much of a fuck, heĂ‚d be a world beater.
Last week someone posted (as a criticism of Naismith) Ă‚I donĂ‚t get excited when he gets on the ballĂ‚, on another thread yesterday, someone posted the illuminating Ă‚heĂ‚s shitĂ‚
Odd for people to watch that much football, yet not have a fucking clue about the game.
9 Posted 13/03/2015 at 07:50:35
Forget the block on Barkley for the goal or having no-one on the posts, the biggest issue of last night’s game and the one against Arsenal is that the corner should be cleared from the corner of the six-yard box. It’s embarrassing, if you look at McCarthy, he should be meeting that Ball before it gets anywhere near the striker, same against the Arse! Basic basic defending.
That’s been my position defending corners for years. The job is to go and meet the ball of any underhit deliveries. It really isn’t difficult. Anyway, decent result and onto Sunday. Same direct intent please.
10 Posted 13/03/2015 at 08:00:57
Agree 100% Mohammed. I’ve said a number of times on here that Naismith should be the first name on the team sheet. He’s a fantastic professional. Hopefully it’s starting to rub off on Lukaku who was immense last night. A beast.
11 Posted 13/03/2015 at 08:08:25
Captain Phil J will be the on-field liaison between the Goodison faithful and the players and between them they will make any tactical changes deemed necessary. Acting manager, Roberto Martinez, will be replaced by a cardboard cut out. Joke.
12 Posted 13/03/2015 at 08:14:10
In my opinion it was the players who changed things around. You could literally see them saying bollocks to this shit. Once we started playing forward balls the whole game changed.
What surprised me was how noticeably we tired in the last 10 minutes. Seeing as we never started playing until the 30th minute it was amazing how we couldnĂ‚t keep going for the last 60.
Regardless what Martinez said after the match he was definitely happy with the shite sideways passing of the first 30 minutes. He was nodding and encouraging the lads. After they decided to change it he was a bit lost.
After watching a rerun later and listening to BainesĂ‚s comments (or lack of them), if we stay up, it wonĂ‚t be because of Martinez.
13 Posted 13/03/2015 at 08:07:13
But he is a man whom I am very pleased to see wearing our shirt.
14 Posted 13/03/2015 at 08:31:17
He is in a difficult position to comment on team mates and the manager and how the team is organised and set up, especially as he is still part of the squad.
He did appear vague on certain issues such as how to defend corners and taking them which didn't come over too well. He could have expressed that better.
Perhaps clubs should think twice about putting players in that position.
Gerrard was similarly put on the spot recently with the way he suggested Balotelli did not respect Henderson and Liverpool as a club for pinching the ball and scoring the penalty. I assumed from that Balotelli may not be the best loved player.
Anyway, whoever wants to take the credit for Everton turning it around yesterday, be it the crowd, the team or the management, it was a great achievement to get back into the game and take a lead into Kiev. If we can score over there, and I think we can, it will make it an interesting game. A nil-nil going into injury time would be hard to watch.
I might like to see Gibson in the starting line-up to perhaps provide some forward impetus. Also perhaps Kone and Lukaku up front. I would take Mirallas out and possibly Barkley to accommodate the above changes. But then we need width so it's hard to pick a starting line up.
15 Posted 13/03/2015 at 08:55:35
16 Posted 13/03/2015 at 08:44:17
John, you comment on how we tired in the second half, well, that's been one of my biggest complaints against Martinez this season. As a team, we are nowhere near as fit as we should be, or have been in recent seasons.
And when Osman came out a month or so back and said that a hard, fitness, Martinez training session on a Tuesday was the equivalent of the easy Friday sessions with the ball under Moyes regime it's not difficult to see why we are knackered after 65-70 mins.
This season we have conceded half the goals against in the last 30 minutes of matches, 21, as we have in the first 60 minutes, 20. That, to my mind, is down to lack of fitness which leads to tiredness and a lack of concentration.
17 Posted 13/03/2015 at 08:47:08
Surely when we're safe, the manager must be replaced: his failed tactics are bankrupt... he's become an embarrassment.
18 Posted 13/03/2015 at 09:14:04
But having a player such as Baines who will hopefully be part of Everton’s squad for a few more seasons is in my opinion inappropriate, but I don’t suppose the clubs have much power to stop the broadcasters from this type of access, after all this is one of the many reasons why the TV companies spend so much money on the sport.
19 Posted 13/03/2015 at 09:11:05
Some significant, specific footballing talking points (Rom's muscling for the first goal, Jags passion etc), but the big talking points for me are about what was going on around that. Did we really see the players take the initiative instead of being hidebound by sterile tactics? Did we really hear Baines "say" those things "between the lines"? Did we really see the crowd dictate tactics?
Am I naive, again, in coming out of a match thinking that this might just be a turning point? After a miserable start, the passion and pace were tangible. Newcastle next Ă‚â€“ come on, everybody.
20 Posted 13/03/2015 at 09:24:03
And yet Roberto has made it clear that he will stick to his beliefs despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
The good news is that last night showed we have some great players. The bad news is that it's only when they decide to play more directly that they are able to showcase their talents.
21 Posted 13/03/2015 at 09:24:28
Have to agree also with Colin. Except for his last word!
22 Posted 13/03/2015 at 10:05:18
Lukaku was immense: pace and power to set up Naismith, who I think can be a headless chicken at times but took his goal well. I thought Coleman started doing what he does again and looked a threat. Alcaraz...? Haven't we got anyone else?
Good (not great) win and something to take away with us next week. I just hope we don't revert to type against Newcastle on Sunday...
23 Posted 13/03/2015 at 10:18:13
If Howard is injured (he won't be dropped), this means Robles will come into the team without hardly any game time.
24 Posted 13/03/2015 at 10:22:55
Had the tempo yesterday changed after we conceded the goal I would agree with you that the message could have come from RM to change the tactics. I was sitting thousands of miles away watching the game on TV and even I could feel Goodison reaching boiling point with the way the team continued to try and play RM's way until Jags and Barry started to play more direct and with a higher tempo. This was purely because of the tension they felt coming from the stands and no one can convince me otherwise.
My main problem with Martinez is that we never hear him after a game talking about how he catered our tactics to neutralize the strengths of our opponents. I would love for Everton to show up and not have to worry about the opposition and play RM's tactics and win but 6 wins in the prem (same as QPR) tells me we need to have a more practical approach.
For example next Thursday if Baines is fit I would play Baines and Garbutt down the left because their main threat came from their right winger(Yarmalenko?)
But RM will go into the game setting the team up to play to what he perceives to be our strengths. (Apparently Tim Howard is one of them)
I have lost faith in him and any success/ premier league survival will be down to the player's pride and supporter's passion more than his outdated system.
25 Posted 13/03/2015 at 11:53:42
People on here moan about the crowd getting on the players backs when we see this shite square and backward passing. ThatĂ‚s their opinion and they are entitled to it.
However, if we had just sat there quietly last night politely clapping at every shite pass we would have lost that game for sure.
The crowds frustration got to the players and they, not that clown Martinez, changed the pattern of play !
The crowd won that match last night and if it takes us moaning and bloody groaning on Sunday to change things well so be it.
26 Posted 13/03/2015 at 12:21:38
Last night I felt that people all over the ground adopted a similar policy. And the players took note.
Odd that the manager so easily took responsibility for the change in approach but, perhaps, that sums him up. An opportunist.
27 Posted 13/03/2015 at 13:01:04
28 Posted 13/03/2015 at 13:00:03
Watching the game on TV, it is sometimes hard to gauge the atmosphere at the ground but after watching the first 10 min the silence as they say was deafening. I was already starting to worry at the way Kyiv was pressing and Everton were doing their usual passing around at the back and was not surprised when Kyiv scored and thought, here we go, we are in for a long night.
After the goal, although the crowd became more vocal it became obvious that they were more critical of the typical slow passing game and let their feelings be known that came over loud and clear, and started to encourage the players when ever they started to move the ball quickly. This to me was the turning point in the game, and as over the last few months never seeing a Plan B, all the credits and praise should go to (a) the crowd for letting their feelings be known emphatically, and (b) the players for standing up and showing what they are capable off once the manager realizes, that sometimes slow build up from the back is not the only way to play.
Regardless who made the decision, congratulations to the team on their effort and desire to get a result. It was a lot better than what has been seen for a couple of months.
29 Posted 13/03/2015 at 13:56:50
Last night (to me) felt very different - last night there was real anger and it looked like fear was the motivation - basically scared into action.
30 Posted 13/03/2015 at 14:26:30
31 Posted 13/03/2015 at 14:18:26
You are both spot on with regard to Naismith. There was a moment last night that highlighted his importance to us and it wasn't the goal. In the 85th minute he was closing down their right back and urging Kone (who should have had a lot more left in the tank than Nessie) to close down their centre half. It is that kind of desire and selfless work for the team that ,for me, allows him the odd technical hitch. He's a superb professional and Im' glad he's a blue.
The crowd certainly played their part last night. I don't think there is any debate as to whether the urging of the crowd made the players increase the tempo and look to get if forward with more urgency. It was mentioned in commentary by Peter Reid.
I used to live in Bangkok and watched a fair bit of Thai boxing. I was never sure whether the tempo of the drum beat that accompanied the fights was set by the fighters or the drummer. Last night it was the drummer controlling the fight, of that I am sure.
32 Posted 13/03/2015 at 15:30:10
He scores the odd goal which is something but he's clearly bottom feeder Premier League or Championship at best.
33 Posted 13/03/2015 at 16:42:20
"Bottom feeder Premier League or Championship at best"
HeĂ‚s obviously at the right Club then !
34 Posted 13/03/2015 at 16:23:08
35 Posted 13/03/2015 at 16:45:01
every team needs a grafter and some passion.
Naismith supplies that in spades.
So did Phil Neville and he was not technically gifted.
If only the cardboard cutout (Thanks for that Colin it sums RM up perfectly) had the same intensity instead of being so laid back we would have a higher tempo of play every game.
36 Posted 13/03/2015 at 17:03:07
But lots of my Toffee mates are saying something worrying, that the Goodison crowd changed the tactics, not the manager! Doesn't that frighten you if it's true? It does me.
We'll see if three points can be gained on Sunday. Personally I'd rather see us safe in the PL than anything.
37 Posted 13/03/2015 at 18:12:05
38 Posted 13/03/2015 at 18:49:44
39 Posted 13/03/2015 at 18:44:55
He tries hard but isn't very good at it. He shuffles around, has no pace, not a very good tackler, he's not aggressive and he is incredibly limited technically.
Maybe it's because he plays out of position, but he's clearly not a good enough striker at this level. Seriously, he would struggle to get in any of the upper Championship teams. Not to worry, we've just extended him until 2019!!
40 Posted 13/03/2015 at 18:59:07
41 Posted 13/03/2015 at 19:16:21
43 Posted 13/03/2015 at 20:15:33
44 Posted 13/03/2015 at 21:21:45
Second point, we started frightened of the supporters and played the worst in ten years. Then, the team got fucking terrified of the supporters and played to save their lives. You were spot on, we are where we are; let's get to fuck out of it together. Every Evertonian at that game last night should feel proud.
45 Posted 14/03/2015 at 00:05:09
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