Five Things We Learned From Everton’s 2-0 Win Over Hajduk Split

Five Things We Learned From Everton’s 2-0 Win Over Hajduk Split
Aug 18, 2017

Europa League Everton Featured

On what was a comfortable, routine victory for Everton against Hajduk Split in the first leg of qualifying for the Europa League, the match will be remembered for the horrific actions of the travelling Croatian fans.

A 2-0 victory for the Merseyside club was a show of dominance against a side who finished third in the Croatian league. On the 30th minute Leighton Baines read that the ball was coming out to him from a corner and when advancing with it, he played a neat one two with Klassen and lifted a delightful ball into the box for Michael Keane to head home his first Everton goal.

Referee Ivan Kruzliak then halted play on the 36th minute, taking all players off the pitch due to the barbaric behaviour of the Hajduk Split fans. Stewards were overpowered with fans trying to jump over the boardings, with some fans eventually doing so and kicking down the advertising boards. Others decided to rip out chairs and throw them onto the pitch which saw the match be suspended for 5 minutes whilst the police tried to take control of the situation.

After the match restarted, Idrissa Gueye got Everton’s second after a bursting run through the middle, sliding past Split goalkeeper Stipica with ease. Everton saw out the second half with Split occasionally putting pressure on Pickford’s goal but in the end, Everton managed to see the game out and take a 2 goal lead to Croatia for the second leg.

So what did we learn from Koeman’s side who are now well into the season, with this being their fourth official match of the 2017/18 campaign?

Romelu Lukaku Will Be Missed

Although he had one assist to his name tonight, Wayne Rooney failed to live up to the standards the Goodison faithful have seen over the past few season from ex-player Romelu Lukaku. A neat pass in behind to Idrissa Gueye was well timed by the 31-year-old striker but later on, he fired straight at the Hajduk Split goalkeeper when put one on one by Davy Klassen. A tame effort on goal and all round average physical presence up front will still leave manager Ronald Koeman wondering how he will replace Lukaku effectively this upcoming season. Rooney needs to make himself available more often and stay central like Lukaku does as all too often, there isn’t anyone up top that the Everton midfield can feed balls into.

Ronald Koeman’s Defensive Additions Have Improved Everton

A heavy summer of spending saw Michael Keane and Jordan Pickford arrive from Burnley and Sunderland respectively and the two Englishmen have slotted straight into the side effortlessly. Keane was a commanding presence tonight and his aerial ability was shown at both ends of the field tonight; a powerful header opening his account for the Blues. Pickford likewise when called into action showed why he was one of the most talked about keepers during the summer. A number of top class saves from long range were dealt with and his presence when collecting crosses were superb for a man who is still relatively young for a first choice Premier League keeper at the age of 23.

Everton kept a clean sheet against Stoke on Saturday and another sturdy performance tonight from the back line cements the idea that Everton will have one of the best defensive records this season, with a mix of top class talent and experience sprinkled throughout the back line.

Everton Have An Able Replacement For Seamus Coleman

When the Irish right back picked up a horrific leg break during World Cup qualifying back in March playing for the Republic of Ireland vs Wales, Everton had a huge void to fill until the new year when Coleman returns from injury. Cuco Martina, who played for Ronald Koeman when he was manager of Southampton seems like he could be a respectable replacement. Getting up and down the right hand side, delivering a number of good crosses which Rooney should have done better with, Martina played a 7/10 performance tonight and looks good enough to hold down that position until Coleman returns.

Ademola Lookman Will Be A Star

Lookman this time last year was lining up for Charlton in League One. Fast forward to now and the tricky 19-year-old was a stand out performer tonight. Having only made a handful appearances last season for Everton, scoring a brilliant solo goal on his debut against Manchester City, Lookman was playing for the second time in Europe and looked more than comfortable. Taking the ball in his stride, the young Englishman was constantly terrorising the Split back line getting in behind countless times. One area he needs to work on is taking on a defender when in a 1v1 situation, however, Koeman will be pleased with the youngster who further staked a claim for a starting position.

Everton Still Lack Strength In Depth

With Gylfi Sigurðsson arriving from Swansea for £45 million, Everton’s spending has hit £133million this summer, however, the Toffees still severely lack depth. Coming off the bench to replace Klassen was Calvert-Lewin who moved up front with Rooney going into a supporting striker role. When Kevin Mirallas was substituted tonight, Besic was brought on with Aaron Lennon the only available winger to come off the bench. In the Europa League qualifying stage this will suffice but further down the line in Europe and in the Premier League, is Calvert-Lewin and Besic the best people to come off the bench or provide back up?

Out wide Everton have a real issue. With Barkley (who can play out wide) currently cast aside as he looks to move away from Goodison Park and Yannick Bolasie still recovering from a long term injury, Koeman needs to add one more quality winger to his squad to come into the side or provide real quality off the bench.

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