Impressive Everton brush Lille aside

Goals from Leon Osman, Phil Jagielka and Steven Naismith help Toffees close in on Europa League knockout place

Leon Osman  scores Everton’s first goal during the Europa League Group H match against Lille at Goodison Park. Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Leon Osman scores Everton’s first goal during the Europa League Group H match against Lille at Goodison Park. Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

 

Everton 3 Lille 0

A starting role is no longer guaranteed at Everton for Leon Osman but he has not been kept at the club on sentiment. The one-club man celebrated a new one-year contract at Goodison Park with the opening goal in a comprehensive defeat of Lille as Roberto Martinez’s team strengthened their hold on Group H.

Everton are not mathematically certain of a place in the knockout phase of the Europa League just yet but they moved closer with a mature, polished performance against the ineffective French side.

Osman, Phil Jagielka and Steven Naismith delivered the goals but of equal importance to the Everton manager was the fluency in his team, an improved showing from Romelu Lukaku and the assured return of Sylvain Distin to the heart of an injury-hit defence.

Lille currently lie 12th in the French league and had drawn all three of their Europa League fixtures prior to arriving on Merseyside, a lack of penetration cited as the main reason why Rene Girard’s team are yet to recapture last season’s form.

Only Divock Origi had scored more than one goal for Lille this term before this encounter. Girard went with a three-man attack to rectify the problem but Everton were by far the more dangerous side from the off.

Dislocated shoulder

There were 22 seconds on the clock when the Nigerian goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama, produced a fine save to prevent Lukaku putting Martinez’s side ahead.

Distin, recalled to the side after Antolin Alcaraz joined John Stones on the long-term absentee list with a dislocated shoulder, started a flowing move down the left involving Osman and Leighton Baines.

Naismith played the left-back’s cross into Lukaku and his neat turn and powerful finish was destined for the far corner until Enyeama made a fingertip save low to his left.

Everton created another promising opening moments later when Naismith beat the Lille keeper to Lukaku’s flick-on and turned the ball inside to Aiden McGeady, who was crowded out by several visiting defenders before he could take aim at goal.

The game threatened to develop into a repeat of Saturday’s frustrating stalemate against Swansea City for Everton, with their opponents again content to sit back and absorb pressure in the hope of stifling the home side’s vibrant opening. In contrast to the weekend, however, Martinez’s men remained patient, continued to stretch the Lille defence down both sides and got their reward with a fine team goal.

Gareth Barry instigated the move with a ball through to the lively Lukaku, who in turn released James McCarthy. The midfielder sent his Republic of Ireland team-mate McGeady scurrying away on the right and, though his inviting cross just evaded the in-rushing McCarthy and Naismith, it dropped perfectly for Osman at the far post. The 33-year-old swept a right-footed finish into the far corner.

Created chances

McGeady also created headed chances for Naismith and Lukaku, from opposing wings but with the same result as his colleagues failed to find the target, and it was from his corner shortly before half-time that Everton doubled their advantage.

The busy Enyeama produced another important stop when Baines scooped the ball into Naismith who attempted to beat the keeper from a tight angle. From the subsequent corner, Jagielka lost fellow central defender Marko Basa far too easily inside the six-yard box and converted McGeady’s delivery with an emphatic diving header.

This was Origi’s first appearance on Merseyside since his summer move to Liverpool, a transfer that came with the condition he remain with Lille on a season-long loan. Indeed, it was the first time a French club had played a competitive fixture at Goodison but both debuts failed to impress.

The Belgium striker, who was preferred to Lukaku for his country’s final games at the World Cup against the United States and Argentina, showed glimpses of pace in flashes and more intent as the contest wore on. He was either isolated or shackled by the experienced defending of Tony Hibbert otherwise.

In contrast to their contributions in Brazil, Lukaku was the sharper, more influential Belgium forward on display here. Everton’s record signing was again thwarted by Enyeama when he unleashed a venomous free-kick from 30 yards and it was his astute pass, not always his strongest point, that led to the team’s third.

Lukaku showed good strength to hold up play then released Baines on the outside. The England international picked out Naismith and the Scot sent an unstoppable finish into the top corner from close range. Game well and truly over.

Copyright: Guardian News & Media 2014

EVERTON: Howard,Hibbert,Jagielka,Distin,Baines, McCarthy (Besic 84),Barry (Gibson 67),Osman,Naismith, McGeady (Atsu 66),Lukaku. Subs Not Used: Robles,Eto’o,Barkley,Pienaar. Booked: Barry. Goals: Osman 27,Jagielka 42,Naismith 61. LILLE: Enyeama,Corchia (Rodelin 75),Kjaer,Basa,Souare,Gueye, Mavuba,Balmont,Ryan Mendes (Beria 64),Origi,Frey (Roux 63). Subs Not Used: Elana,Meite,Rozehnal,Traore. Booked: Balmont. Att: 32,000

Ref: Bas Nijhuis (Holland).

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