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EVERTON edged closer to a European exit after a loss against Lyon on Thursday evening as tempers flared at Goodison Park, on and off the pitch.
The final whistle was greeted with boos, as is becoming the norm at Everton home games, and as the stadium emptied fans voiced their discontent with their team’s recent performances.
Supporters were also involved in one of the game’s flashpoints when a scuffle, initiated when Ashley Williams pushed Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes, spilled over to the Gwladys Street end and a couple of fans made contact with the Portuguese stopper.
Staff from both benches ran over to calm the situation and after the game it was suggested that the incident helped spur the home side on.
“Everton had been struggling, but their fans kept them going and kept pushing,” said Lyon manager Bruno Genesio. “The incident changed things, it woke Everton up, woke the supporters, and really pushed them forward. But when we managed to break away and score again it put us back in control.”
Control was something Everton lacked and their under-pressure manager Ronald Koeman is resorting to more direct tactics due to a lack of confidence in possession.
“With the circumstances in the team it’s better to play more direct than try to play short,” he said. “We don’t have the confidence and we don’t have this quality at the moment.
“You get confidence from winning games, but how we fought in the second half is something for everyone to look to continue into an important game at the weekend.”
The Dutchman’s side went behind early on when a reckless challenge by Mason Holgate meant referee Bas Nijhuis had no choice but to point to the spot before Nabil Fekir slotted the penalty into the bottom corner.
Everton grew into the game after the introduction of Ademola Lookman at half-time, but it was Gylfi Sigurdsson, arriving from the bench just before the hour mark, who caused the most problems. His free-kick was headed in by Williams, then another cross from a dead-ball situation hit the post and bounced clear.
But just as the home side were in the ascendency, Maxwel Cornet raced down the right wing, squaring to Bertrand Traore who flicked the ball in via Michael Keane, leaving Everton facing an uphill task to stay in the competition.
Everton announced yesterday that the fan who appeared to try to strike Lyon’s Lopes while holding a child has been banned from attending future games.
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