Ever­ton given a big les­son, says Koeman

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - News - By John Percy in Citta del Tricolore

The royal blue tide of op­ti­mism around Ever­ton, af­ter that £130mil­lion spend, did not last long. This was a night as grey as Ever­ton’s dread­ful kit and Ron­ald Koeman’s ex­pen­sively as­sem­bled squad were em­bar­rassed by a team on their first foray in Europe for 26 years.

Ever­ton were blown away and a third suc­ces­sive de­feat will only in­crease the scru­tiny on Koeman af­ter a sum­mer re­cruit­ment drive which had promised so much.

All those fears over Ever­ton’s lack of pace ap­pear well founded on this ev­i­dence and here in north­ern Italy they had the cut­ting edge of a plas­tic spat­ula, un­able to re­spond af­ter a three-goal blast in a night­mar­ish first half. For­mer Ever­ton de­fender Martin Ke­own likened last night’s dis­play to some­thing out of Dad’s Army while for­mer Eng­land striker Chris Sut­ton called it “gut­less” and said trav­el­ling fans de­served to have their costs re­im­bursed. The only crumb of com­fort for Koeman is that Manch­ester United, last sea­son’s Europa League win­ners, also lost their first group game but this was a re­al­ity check for the Dutch­man.

Many Ever­ton sup­port­ers had streamed out of the sta­dium by half-time and those that re­mained jeered the play­ers who ap­plauded them at the fi­nal whis­tle. Sun­day’s trip to Old Traf­ford, and a re­union with Romelu Lukaku, now looks an even more daunt­ing prospect.

Koeman said: “I share the fans’ anger and it’s a big les­son to­day. This was a wake-up call, if not the prob­lem is much big­ger. The team is far away from what we need to show and of course you can find ex­cuses about young play­ers, but most of the play­ers are not at the level we ex­pect. What I saw on the pitch was a big dif­fer­ence be­tween Ata­lanta and Ever­ton in be­lief con­fi­dence, ag­gres­sion and pas­sion.

“So that’s a ques­tion to my­self, what I did wrong. It’s eas­ier to crit­i­cise the play­ers, the team, and in­di­vid­ual mis­takes but the team was not pre­pared well for what it saw in the first half.”

It could have been even worse for Ever­ton and the sad truth is that Ata­lanta had the cigars out af­ter half-time, the game won af­ter a one-sided open­ing 45 min­utes.

Fourth in Serie A last sea­son, Ata­lanta’s fans will have savoured the two-hour drive back to Berg­amo af­ter such a mem­o­rable night.

With their own sta­dium un­der ren­o­va­tion, Ata­lanta will play all their Euro­pean games 120 miles away in Reg­gio Emilia but the at­mos­phere felt like a home tie.

Ever­ton were un­der pres­sure from the start, with goal­keeper Maarten Steke­len­burg over­worked in a rare ap­pear­ance, tip­ping over a header from Phil Jagielka that threat­ened to arc into the net af­ter just 100 sec­onds.

With six changes made to the team hum­bled by Tot­ten­ham last week­end, Ever­ton were dis­jointed and un­able to find any rhythm, even­tu­ally fall­ing be­hind in the 27th minute.

Steke­len­burg had saved bril­liantly from close range to deny An­drea Masiello yet from the re­sult­ing cor­ner, the Ata­lanta left-back could not miss from barely a yard out af­ter the ball took a de­flec­tion off Jagielka.

Ata­lanta, play­ing with width and en­deav­our, in­creased their lead four min­utes be­fore half-time af­ter a stun­ning strike from their tal­is­man.

Ale­jan­dro Gomez, known as Papu, was given far too much space to curl the ball into the far cor­ner from 25 yards.

The third goal came just be­fore the break as Bryan Cris­tante ex­ploited de­fen­sive hes­i­tancy to ad­vance into the area and di­rect the ball to the right of Steke­len­burg.

Ata­lanta could have added more goals early in the sec­ond half, with Gomez shoot­ing over be­fore Remo Freuler struck the up­right.

Wayne Rooney was re­placed mid­way through the half af­ter a des­per­ately poor evening, with Ever­ton only man­ag­ing one shot on tar­get all night.

Grey day: Ever­ton play­ers show their dis­ap­point­ment af­ter An­drea Masiello’s open­ing goal for Ata­lanta while the home fans cel­e­brate. Ron­ald Koeman’s team slumped to their third suc­ces­sive de­feat last night

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.