Tuesday 22 May 2018

No peace for Koeman after Goodison war

Everton 1 Lyon 2

Ashley Williams clashes with Lyon players at Goodison Park. Photo: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Ashley Williams clashes with Lyon players at Goodison Park. Photo: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Chris Bascombe

Europe is offering no shelter for Ronald Koeman, but if there is any consolation in the latest defeat at least he know his players are scrapping for him.

Even one of the Everton fans wanted to take the fight to Lyon at Goodison Park, which may have more serious repercussions.

With Koeman's side meandering towards a defeat that leaves them bottom of their group, a mass brawl broke out between Everton and Lyon players midway through the second half.

A member of the Gwladys Street End seemed to get involved, further inflaming the situation.

Agitators

When the players eventually scattered, referee Bas Nijuis somewhat improbably opted to show only yellow cards to Ashley Williams and Bertrand Traore, chief among the agitators, who both then went on to score.

Ashley Williams equalises for Everton. Photo: REUTERS/Andrew Yates
Ashley Williams equalises for Everton. Photo: REUTERS/Andrew Yates

Video evidence will not be kind to the spectator who appeared to misdirect a punch whilst holding his child in his other arm.

But, as the fingers wag in public, privately Koeman knows the aggravation briefly assisted rather than hindered.

Williams headed in an equaliser almost immediately and a hitherto passive Everton swarmed forward in pursuit of a winner only to succumb on the counter-attack on 76 minutes.

Lyon evidently have not read the European football guidebook about quietening boisterous crowds.

Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin leaps over a challenge from Olympique Lyonnais goalkeeper Anthony Lopes and Kenny Tete. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA
Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin leaps over a challenge from Olympique Lyonnais goalkeeper Anthony Lopes and Kenny Tete. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA

They turned a subdued crowd feisty but got away with it, holding on for a winner.

The Europa League felt like a reward for Everton at the end of last season. Koeman's team selection made it seem a distraction now.

Wayne Rooney was not in the squad, while Gylfi Sigurdsson and Idrissa Gueye were benched, with Sunday's visit of Arsenal evidently appeared more important. These decisions hinted Koeman already sees Premier League points as key to his survival.

He might be right, but so abysmal was the start the Dutchman did not know whether to be furious or bewildered.

The home fans opted for a blend of both. Mason Holgate's fifth-minute tackle on left-back Marcal was so crude, even some on the Gwladys Street found themselves instinctively yelling penalty.

Tom Davies and Lyon's Lucas Tousart battle for possession. Photo: REUTERS/Andrew Yates
Tom Davies and Lyon's Lucas Tousart battle for possession. Photo: REUTERS/Andrew Yates

Nabil Fekir converted for Lyon and another evening of toil beckoned. It is not that Everton did not try. They were trying. Very trying. They just have so little of substance.

The youngsters began nervously, and the veterans offered no help. Winger Nikola Vlasic showed promise with minimal support.

Morgan Schneiderlin looked a yard short with every intended interception. One of the high-profile signings of the summer, Davy Klaassen, was so poor he visibly stopped asking for the ball for 30 minutes. In fairness, many in the crowd were pleading with his team-mates to stop giving it to him.

He was replaced with Ademola Lookman at half-time, the least surprising of decisions.

Ronald Koeman looks on as his Everton side lose out at home to Lyon. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA
Ronald Koeman looks on as his Everton side lose out at home to Lyon. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA

Klaassen has already reached the point where you feel sorry for him, the worst criticism. He has pedigree but is not contributing.

When there was application, the Gwladys Street were able to locate their voice as sporadic outbreaks of running and tackling unsettled the visitors.

Kevin Mirallas was denied a 32nd-minute equaliser by keeper Anthony Lopes, and Klaassen also shot tamely when well positioned to offer a sterner test.

But chances were more frequent at the other end. Memphis Depay, the former Manchester United winger, struck the bar with a free-kick that bounced off Tom Davies' head.

If that was unlucky, Depay should have done better when sent clear to face Jordan Pickford, but it was a limp strike.

Lookman's pace immediately offered encouragement at the start of the second half, Lopes saving a close range prod towards goal. When facing enthusiasm, Lyon looked more vulnerable.

Incendiary

It did not help Everton's cause when Schneiderlin needed to be withdrawn injured on 57 minutes, Sigurdsson making his entrance.

But then came the incendiary incident, Lyon with only themselves to blame for transforming the atmosphere and offering the hosts hope.

Williams headed home the 69th-minute equaliser and almost immediately Sigurdsson's free-kick struck a post.

Lyon were now holding on, but Traore's clever finish restored their lead with 15 minutes left.

There was no comeback this time, despite Everton's improved second half.

In truth, Pickford kept the score down. For Koeman the situation is increasingly desperate. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport