Woeful Everton Embarrassed by Atalanta in Europa League Opener

0:39 | Soccer
England Captain Wayne Rooney Retires From International Competition
Thursday September 14th, 2017

Almost 2,500 Everton fans made the journey to Italy to watch their Everton side face Atalanta in their opening Europa League fixture on Thursday night.

Toffees fans would have had high hopes of qualifying from a Group E that also included Lyon and Apollon Limassol, however Atalanta will have certainly put doubts in fans minds after this performance.

Things weren't looking too bad for the Toffees at the start of the game as they made the first real chances of the game, with first Sigurdsson having a shot from the edge of the box well saved. Then on the 14th minute Rooney saw an audacious chip attempt go over the bar.

However, from the 15th minute onwards Atlanta took control of proceedings. Atlanta created a host of chances, with Everton slow to close players down and sloppy in possession. There was a goal mouth scramble eventually cleared by a dodgy looking Everton defence in the 18th minute, with Stekelenburg having to make good saves from Castagne and Petanga soon after.

The home side deservedly took the lead on 35 minutes when Masiello slotted home from close range following Everton's failure to clear a corner. As the cross came in the ball seemed to deflect off Besic, as the Bosnian failed to clear appropriately, Atalanta's centre back to slot home at the far post.

Gomez then made it two on 41 minutes with a very special finish. The Atalanta striker picked up the ball on the edge of the Everton box, shifted the ball onto his right foot and curled a beautifully dipping shot into Stekelenburg's far post, with the Dutch keeper having no chance of making the save.

Everton's misery was further compounded just three minutes later when the home side made it 3-0. The Toffees passing had been woeful throughout the half and another sloppy ball out of defence let Petagna latch on to the ball and find his teammate Cristante. With the Italians outnumbering the Premier League side on the break, the midfielder slotted home with confidence from inside the box.

Koeman needed to deliver an inspirational team-talk at half-time after his side had been playing too slowly, had not been able to hold up the ball well enough in the final third and had been poor defensively, after an abysmal first half.

However, it was Atalanta again who took the initiative in the second half. They should have been 4-0 up when a Petagna rolled the ball across the Everton box to Gomez, only for the striker to blaze the ball over the bar.

MIGUEL MEDINA/GettyImages

Everton were then saved by the woodwork in the 56th minute. Petagna, who caused Everton problems all night, placed another good pass to Freuler, but the central midfielder narrowly missed out on a goal, after seeing his shot from the edge of the box coming crashing back off the crossbar.

After that the Atalanta maintained possession without making many more clear chances and deservedly saw out their comfortable victory.

Everton made changes after their woeful defeat at Tottenham, but Koeman didn't see results as his side played just as bad and lost by the same scoreline to a mid table Italian side. It was a frankly woeful and gutless performance by the Toffees. 

However, nothing should be taken away from an Atalanta side who were making just their fifth start to a European competition, as the Italians put every ounce of effort into the game to get the deserved victory.

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