RONALD KOEMAN’S troubles continued yesterday as his Everton side fell to a 1-0 defeat at home to Burnley.
Even if they’d scraped a point as his players appealed for penalties in the dying minutes, their performance throughout was unconvincing and wouldn’t have been enough to appease a restless fanbase.
Nikola Vlasic retained his place in the side following his impressive midweek cameo against Apollon Limassol. He formed part of an attacking unit which included fellow attacking midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson and strikers Oumar Niasse and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Niasse managed an early snapshot, and a Calvert-Lewin-led counter eventually led to a shot for Vlasic, but they were easy to handle for Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope.
Despite some promising early play from Koeman’s side, the visitors took the lead after an excellent team move was finished off by Jeff Hendrick. Scott Arfield threaded a ball through to advancing left full-back Stephen Ward who, rather than hit a hopeful cross, cut the ball back to Hendrick. The Irishman waited for Morgan Schneiderlin to commit before slotting the ball past Jordan Pickford.
Everton continued to dally in the second half. Koeman introduced Wayne Rooney, ending Schneiderlin’s disappointing afternoon in the process, but the local boy failed to make an impact.
Burnley had a slice of luck when Matthew Lowton handled the ball in the area and referee Jonathan Moss refused to point to the spot, despite desperate appeals in his direction from the Everton players. Lowton’s hand was in the air as a cross came in and, though the ball hit his arm and not the other way around, it definitely fell into the “seen them given” category.
The home fans begin to file out even before the fourth official had held up his board to indicate the amount of added time, summing up their frustration and lack of faith in this team.
They missed another late penalty shot after the ball again hit Lowton’s arm, but Moss gave a corner. Their side had lacked movement, creativity and, more worryingly, a plan — something which cannot be said of Sean Dyche’s Burnley. The final whistle went, and those who remained in Goodison booed their team off.
“I can’t complain about my players today, they did everything,” said Koeman. “It’s not so easy against Burnley, if you go down they are really defensive minded, really physical, the commitment and spirit of the players was positive but the final result not.”
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