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Moyes eyes Euro march for 'stronger' Toffees

David Moyes is looking for his Everton side to kick on in the Europa League after the "unbelievable achievement" of negotiating the group stages.

With injuries decimating his squad, the Scot had to rely on some of the club's promising youngsters to help the cause at the end of last year. Everton did progress, finishing second to Benfica, and ahead of BATE Borisov and AEK Athens.

Tonight they come up against Portuguese opposition again in the shape of Sporting Lisbon in the last 32 first leg, and Moyes, with a sense of pride, reflected on how they had reached this stage.

He said: "We were struggling in that part of the season (the group). Yet we qualified with a game to spare.

"Maybe we should be saying it was an unbelievable achievement to get through to the last 32. We are a lot stronger now. We are on top of the ground and hopefully we will continue that way."

It is no coincidence that, with some of their best players back, Everton are on a good run of form.

They go into the home match with just two defeats in 11 games in all competitions and on the back of a 2-1 victory at home to Chelsea.

Moyes is feeling good and confident. He added: "I am miserable when we are not winning. I do not think the supporters would like me to be jolly if the team was losing. They probably think I don't care. But I do care.

"Maybe it shows too much at times. But if I was a punter I would prefer the manager to care than not be bothered.

"I am definitely bothered about the Europa League and want to get as far as I can.

"I wanted to do that in the FA Cup and League Cup but it wasn't to be. Every competition we are in, I want to get as far as I can."

Sporting won their group ahead of Hertha Berlin but their form has dipped and they lie a distant fourth to Benfica in the Portuguese league.

The Toffees boss continued: "There are similarities to Benfica. But I think Benfica are a more accomplished side.

"We are in a good moment, Sporting are not. It has changed a little bit for us.

"But we will not underestimate them. They have been in the Champions League and European competitions. They have experience.

"It is a big game against a club with a lot of history and I am looking forward to our European campaign restarting."

Midfielder Steven Pienaar is available again after sitting out the Chelsea match through suspension.

Everton v Sporting Lisbon

live setanta ireland/espn (KO 5.45)


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