Category Archives: Europa League

Everton takes lead against Hajduk in Europa League first playoff round

Published by:

Everton took a firm 2-0 lead against Hajduk Split in their first of two legs in the playoff round of the Europa League amidst crowd troubles at the Goodison Park.

The Toffees took the lead when Dante Stipica’s weak punched clearance at a corner was seized on by Leighton Baines, who then easily picked out Michael Keane for the centre-half to nod in from close range for his first goal for the club.

But play was quickly stopped soon after for five minutes. In the 33rd minute, travelling Hajduk fans, who had been packed into a corner of the Bullens Road stand, surged towards the Goodison Park pitch together and threw objects while stewards fought to restore order.

Wayne Rooney had a goal disallowed for what looked a tight offside call after play resumed, and in the seconds before five minutes of added time was announced Everton increased their lead through Idrissa Gueye who slide a low shot into the bottom corner.

On the other end of the pitch, Jordan Pickford produced three fine saves as the Croatian pressed more in the second half, including a smart save low to his left from Franck Ohandza to stop the visitors netting a potentially crucial away goal.

Everton coach Ronald Koeman could have been pleased with the result ahead of their second leg — especially in the knowledge that a win, a draw or a single-goal defeat could guarantee their place in the Europa League group stage — but the Dutchman was not over the top celebrating.

“I was really happy with the first half, really unhappy with the second,” Koeman said after the match. “We dropped the tempo too much after going two up, and that scoreline was not the maximum we could have taken from the game.”

“Winning 2-0 is fine in the Premier League, you get three points, but here we have another game to play and we have made it more difficult than it needed to be.”

Everton grabs late winner to ease into Europa League playoffs

Published by:

Everton scored late to book a place in the Europa League qualifying playoff round with a 1-0 win (2-0 on aggregate) away against Ruzomberok.

After taking a 1-0 lead in the first leg, Everton worked hard from the start for a goal but failed, with Morgan Schneiderlin going closest with a header from Sandro Ramirez’s corner, while Ruzomberok threatened with Dominik Kruzliak heading over.

However, aside from Kruzliak’s effort, a strike from Erik Daniel were the only attempts on goal that Ruzomberok that troubled Toffees keeper Jordan Pickford. Matus Macik also had a quiet evening, with Everton rarely troubling the Slovak defence.

The breakthrough then finally came for Everton 10 minutes from time as Davy Klaassen played in substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin on the right, who then struck a low first-time effort past the reach of Macik from 12 yards.

With the win, Everton could look forward to learn who their next opponents are through the draw for the play-off round that takes place later today. The ties will be played on 17 and 24 August, with the 22 winners going into the Europa League group stage.

“Maybe Dominic feels a bit more comfortable as one of two strikers. He’s strong, he’s fast and he scored a great goal,” Everton manager Ronald Koeman said. “It was a physical game and 90 minutes that the players needed. We are through to the next round and I’m really happy.”

“This competition has always been important for me. I like to be in Europe — it’s important for our experience. It’s good for the club, the players and the fans. It’s not easy to reach the group stages but we will do everything to get there.”

Two Man Utd players sanctioned for breaching UEFA doping regulations

Published by:

Manchester United players Phil Jones and Daley Blind had been sanctioned after found guilty of breaching the UEFA’s doping regulations after the Europa League final in May.

It was understood that Jones was upset for missing out on a squad photograph taken after the match, which also pays tribute to victims of the Manchester terrorist attack earlier in the week. He expressed this disappointment to officials at the time.

On the other hand, Blind did feature on that photograph and join in some of the celebrations, albeit accompanied by a chaperone. However, although permitted in other competitions it was not the case in this instance.

Jones, 25, had been found to have been verbally abusive towards a doping control officer after he was requested to attend drug-testing after the final in Stockholm on 24 May.

UEFA has since handed a two-match ban for the Englishman, who will now miss the UEFA Super Cup match against Real Madrid next week, as well as United’s first Champions League group stage match in September, while also being fined for €5,000.

As for Blind, while it was understood that he did not realise he had done anything wrong until reaching doping control, Blind was fined €5,000 for his own breaching of regulations.

UEFA has also fined Manchester United for €10,000 over the rule breaches, despite no suggestions that either player was guilty of doping. Blind featured the full 90 minutes against his old club Ajax in the final, while Jones was an unused substitute.

Everton takes slim lead in Europa League qualifier

Published by:

Everton managed to take a slim 1-0 lead against MFK Ruzomberok in their Europa League third qualifying round match.

Toffees captain Leighton Baines scored the only goal of the night through a deflected shot at a half-cleared corner 20 minutes after the interval.

While Everton were dominant in possession throughout, the Merseyside team had struggled to register efforts in the first half and still needed Maarten Stekelenburg to make a crucial save and turn Jan Maslo’s header on to the crossbar.

Nonetheless, the reason that the Premier League club face such a struggle could be due to a reinvigorated team — with coach Ronald Koeman gave debuts to summer signings Cuco Martina, Michael Keane, Davy Klaassen and Sandro Ramirez.

In Klassen and Ramirez’s case, both played particularly well with Klassen almost coming close with a shot in the first half and with a header in the second.

Ramirez, on the other hand, plays with the zip, confidence and aggression that stretched the Ruzomberok defence well wide, boosting Wayne Rooney and Klaassen behind him.

This means that Everton have a challenge in finding the right formation that would bring the best of each of their players. However, they could hardly rest on their laurels in their attempt to do so, as Ruzomberok had been able to overcome a first-leg deficit against Brann Bergen in the last round.

“Nothing has been decided yet,” Ruzomberok coach Norbert Hrnca said. “We had two good opportunities tonight, maybe next week we can do the same and take them.”

“We know we are in for a tough game next week,” Baines said after the game. “It was tough tonight, but at least we will know a bit more about what to expect, and as a team we will know each other that bit better too.”