Everton 1 Atalanta 5
Everton did not pick the most auspicious day to announce they have just signed the land contract for a new stadium at Bramley Dock on the Mersey waterfront.
Nearing the end of their doomed European non-adventure, a dead rubber against almost qualified Atalanta fell a long way short of filling the present stadium as the caretaker, David Unsworth, made nine changes from the side who drew at Crystal Palace on Saturday. The only part of the ground where empty blue seats were not conspicuous was the section of the Bullens Road stand filled by 3,000 noisy Italians.
Incredibly, as the teams lined up on the pitch the stadium announcer introduced the visitors as Lyon. Still, by the time a new riverside home is designed, built and commissioned, there is every chance Everton will have found a new manager.
Unsworth could have boosted his CV with a first win in Europe, but Everton fell behind after just 13 minutes. Timothy Castagne made light of whatever cover Cuco Martina and Davy Klaassen were supposed to be providing on the left with a sparkling burst down the wing and into the area, and from his cutback near the byline it was a simple matter for Bryan Cristante to stab home from close range.
Once again Everton had little to offer up front, where Sandro Ramírez was unconvincing as a spearhead and most of Wayne Rooney’s best work was confined to the flanks, from where he managed to send in a couple of decent crosses.
When Kevin Mirallas got a rare sight of goal on the half hour he brought a good reaction save from Etri Berisha, and though the precision of the finish could be questioned it was considerably better than the skyward effort Ramírez produced in a good position from the rebound. Tom Davies did manage to beat the Atalanta goalkeeper when the visitors struggled to clear a cross just before the interval, but Rafael Toloi was in position behind Berisha to head clear off the line.
Atalanta missed a chance to extend their lead when Ashley Williams brought down Cristante to concede a penalty early in the second half. Alejandro Gómez stepped up to take the kick but Joel Robles dived to his right to keep it out. Everton's reserve goalkeeper was in action again moments later when keeping out a deflection off the head of Williams from a corner, and when the ubiquitous Cristante headed the ball back goalwards Jonjoe Kenny was able to help Robles out with a clearance off the line. Hans Hateboer showed strength to hold off Kenny and pace to break into the box as the visitors threatened again on the hour, only to rather waste his hard work by shooting too close to Robles with the goal at his mercy.
A second goal was bound to come, and it arrived from a set piece in the 64th minute. Gómez took a corner, and Cristante climbed above Davies and Williams to glance the ball in from close range. Ramírez did pull a goal back before the end, helped by Rooney and Mirallas, though the substitutes Robin Gosens and Andreas Cornelius, with two, gave the scoreline a decisive edge on what was an easy night for the Italians and for Cristante in particular. The only mystery about the double goalscorer is why Benfica have allowed him out on loan. Judging by their Champions League performances they could do with him back. – Guardian service