Late leveller by Limassol holds Blues to damaging draw

Thursday, 28 September, 2017 0comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 2 - 2 Apollon Limassol

Overlooked against Bournemouth, Sandro Ramirez starts in the absence of Oumar Niasse

Everton were denied a vital victory by Hector Yuste's equaliser for Apollon Limassol after substitute Nikola Vlasic had put them on course for three points.

The Blues were leading as the game entered the 88th minute with the Cypriot side a man down following Valentin Roberge's sending off but they couldn't deal with a wicked free kick that Yuste guided beyond Jordan Pickford to level the match at 2-2.

Ronald Koeman made more changes to his previous line-up, with Jonjoe Kenny, Tom Davies and Sandro Ramirez coming into the side at the expense of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Davy Klaassen and Cuco Martina.

Everton started poorly, lacking tempo and looking vulnerable to Limassol on the counter-attack.

Gylfi Sigurdsson had an early chance to create something with a free kick but delivered the ball too close to the 'keeper while Rooney's gamble to chase Pickford's long clearance almost paid off but he couldn't quite bring the ball in as it bounced in the opposition box.

Limassol's pressing paid dividends with 12 minutes gone. Under pressure, Ashley Williams elected not to pass back to his goalkeeper and gave the ball straight to Maglica.

The ball was quickly whipped into the middle where Adrian Sardinero was initially foiled by Pickford but the ball broke kindly off the Englishman's arm and he had a routine tap-in to give the visitors the lead.

The Blues were gifted an equaliser, though, nine minutes later. Looking for his goalkeeper, Yuste send a wayward backpass beyond Bruno Vale and Rooney had the simple task of stabbing into the empty goal.

Soon afterwards, Rooney missed an overhead kick attempt from Davies's looping header back across goal and Sigurdsson's volley was saved by the 'keeper.

After having to have his hand bandaged up when a defender landed on it with his studs, Rooney curled an effort narrowly wide as the Blues tried to take charge of the contest.

With the half drawing to a close and Everton struggling to trouble their opponents, the Vale was twice called into action. Davies stung his palms with a rocket from outside the box that he pushed away and he then fisted a Sigurdsson free kick to safety following a foul on the edge of the area.

Koeman looked to address his team's shortcomings over the first 45 minutes by bringing Vlasic on for Idrissa Gueye to add more options going forward.

The change didn't immediately change the pattern of the game as Everton toiled to break down an entrenched Limassol side and it was the visitors who forced the first save of the second half that Pickford pulled off one handed to foil a shot from distance.

It would take almost 20 minutes for the home team to threaten the Cypriots' goal when Sigurdsson swung a free kick to the back post and Williams connected but could only put it into the Gwladys Street on the stretch from a tight angle.

Limassol's mostly organised rearguard was opened up a minute later, though, when Rooney's pass deflected into the path of Sigurdsson who flicked Vlasic into the clear behind the defence and the Croatian finished with impressive composure, tucking his shot inside the post past the advancing 'keeper.

Koeman had already decided to replace Sandro and Davies with Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Davy Klaassen and they came on straight after Everton's second goal.

Yuste's cynical foul on Rooney earned him an entry in the referee's book and gave Everton another set-piece opportunity. The initial free kick was headed clear and Vlasic's volley was sliced wide but when the ball was worked back inside, the former Hajduk Split man fired a low shot that was saved.

A minute later, the Blues countered with a long ball to Calvert-Lewin that the young striker controlled well and then hammered narrowly wide searching for the top corner.

Rooney tested Vale with a speculative drive from distance, Kenny had a shot charged down as Sigurdsson slipped him in on the overlap and Rooney tried to emulate the Icelander's feat in Split with an audacious effort from the halfway line but it drifted wide.

When "Roby" was sent off for going into Calvert-Lewin's back with his studs, it looked to be game over but a free kick from the left conceded by Klaassen on Jander as he tried to gallop through set up the free kick from which Limassol equalised.

Everton responded immediately and Calvert-Lewin looked to have put them straight back into the lead from Vlasic's inch-perfect cross but Vale denied him with an excellent save.

In the final minute of stoppage time, Vlasic almost put Rooney in and a defender's clearance cannoned off another white shirt and almost looped in but it landed on the roof of the net instead.

Everton: Pickford, Kenny, Holgate, Williams, Baines {c}, Schneiderlin, Gueye (45' Vlasic), Davies (67' Klaassen), Sigurdsson, Rooney, Ramirez (67' Calvert-Lewin).
Subs: Stekelenburg, Martina, Mirallas, Lookman.

Attendance: 27,034


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