Everton played out a disappointing draw against 10-man Apollon Limassol in their second Europa League game of the season on Thursday night. The result leaves them at the bottom of Group E, having lost their opening game at Atalanta.
Ronald Koeman, the Everton manager, was annoyed at his players.
“I cannot say they are not running, and not fighting, but they are scared,” he said.
“We know what fans like and they don’t like to see balls played back. In the first 20 minutes every ball was back.
“At 2-2 we had the best chance of tonight by Dominic [Calvert-Lewin] and we don’t score. If you are afraid, if you are scared, you don’t get that luck.”
Fans of the Cypriot side had entertained all who saw them in Liverpool city centre with an array of flags, banners and chants as they made their way to Goodison Park. Their side responded on the pitch with a stubborn, often dangerous display against an Everton team which failed to get out of first gear.
“We came here to try to play football,” said Apollon manager Sofronis Avgousti. “It was a difficult game, a difficult fixture, but we did our best.
“We would like to congratulate our fans too, they didn’t stop supporting and pushing the team.”
A mistake from Ashley Williams gave the visitors an early lead as Anton Maglica, the grateful recipient of the defender’s wayward pass, crossed for Adrian Sardinero. A defensive error at the other end let Everton back into it. Centre back Hector Yuste looked to pass back to his goalkeeper, Bruno Vale, but only found a lurking Wayne Rooney who accepted the gift.
Impressive Everton substitute Nikola Vlasic looked to have scored the winner after he latched onto a neat Gylfi Sigurdsson pass, and when Valentin Roberge was sent off for standing on Dominic Calvert-Lewin the Toffees looked sure to secure a win. However, Apollon had other ideas, and when Joao Pedro’s free-kick sailed into the area, Yuste atoned for his earlier error, heading past Jordan Pickford.
Calvert-Lewin then had his big chance to win it with a header, but Vale saved well from close range.
The performance of Vlasic was the only positive for the home side. “You can take positives from individual performances such as Vlasic. He brought energy. He brought football,” added Koeman, but the 19-year-old was alone in his exploits.
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