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Dublin: 4 °C Tuesday 11 December, 2018

Everton booed off after conceding late leveler to 10-men Cypriots at Goodison

Goals from Rooney and Vlasic weren’t enough for the Toffees.

Image: EMPICS Sport

EVERTON ARE THE the first English side to pick up just one point after their first two Europa League group stage games, per Opta, after conspiring to draw 2-2 with Cypriot side Apollon Limassol – a result which leaves them bottom of Group E.

Apollon, who currently occupy eighth place in their domestic league, netted an equaliser three minutes from time, this less than 120 seconds after being reduced to 10 men. Everton were subsequently booed off by a portion of their home support.

The visitors took the lead on 13 minutes, and befitting of their start to the season, it was a calamity on Everton’s behalf which gifted Apollon the opening.

Ashley Williams made a hames of a long ball fired down Everton’s left flank, initially appearing as though he might leave it run back to Jordan Pickford, but opting last second to play it to Leighton Baines instead. Croatian striker Anton Maglica seized on the loose ball, and with Baines now out of position, put it on a plate for Adrián Sardinero, who beat Pickford on his second attempt.

The Cypriots returned the favour a mere eight minutes later, however, when Wayne Rooney capitalised on an atrocious defensive mix-up to fire home from point-blank range. It’s Rooney’s third goal for his boyhood club since returning from Manchester United in the summer.

An extremely dull half and hour followed, the half-time break in between offering a moment’s solace, before Everton hit the front after 50 minutes.

An intuitive flicked pass by Gylfi Sigurdsson put 19-year-old Croat Nikola Vlasic through on goal, and the substitute made no mistake in firing past the ‘keeper at his right-hand side.

Everton should have put the game to bed with Rooney and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, supplied wonderfully by the former, coming close, and with Apollon still dangerous, their task should have become easier on 87 minutes.

Former Sunderland defender Valentin Roberge received his marching orders for a hideous stamp on the back of 20-year-old Calvert-Lewin, an incident which led to a furious exchange between the two sides. The red was more than warranted, and Apollon looked cooked.

Just over a minute later, though, they were level; a curled free-kick from Pedro landed atop the head of Spaniard Hector Yuste, whose error led to Rooney’s goal in the first half. He made amends, his looping header beating Pickford and sending the away end into orbit.

Calvert-Lewin missed a glorious chance with a header to dig Everton out of a hole, and Apollon once more nearly made a complete bags of things – an attempted clearance looping onto the roof of the net via a deflection off one of their own defenders.

In many ways it might have been a fitting end to an occasional comical game of football, but Ronald Koeman won’t be laughing tonight. Evertonians certainly are not.

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