By 90Min
December 07, 2017

Everton avoided the embarrassment of finishing bottom of their Europa League group thanks to Ademola Lookman's brace and a goal from Nikola Vlasic in their 3-0 win against Apollon on Thursday night.

 

Apollon were unbeaten in nine European home games, including 1-1 draws with Atalanta and Lyon this campaign, meaning this would be no easy task for the Toffees.

Manager Sam Allardyce stayed at home for the game due to a pre-arranged medical appointment, leaving assistant manager Craig Shakespeare to take the reigns in Cyprus. He opted to field an incredibly inexperienced side as academy graduates Beni Baningime, Morgan Feeney, Harry Charsley and Fraser Hornby all started.

England U21 star Lookman - who in this side could almost be considered a senior player - had the first real opportunity of the game in the 9th minute when he cut back onto his right foot in the penalty box but struck the ball straight at Anastasios Kissas.

Lookman then went on a dazzling run and was tackled, but the ball fell kindly to the 21-year-old left-back Charsley, whose brilliant curling effort was fantastically saved by the fingertips of the Apollon goalkeeper.

The former Charlton hotshot's positive start was rewarded in the 21st minute when he leapt like a salmon to earn Everton the lead with a brilliant diving header - just his second goal for the club and his first in Europe.

Lookman then had his second of the night just seven minutes later with an absolutely phenomenal strike from 25-yards-out. Everton passed the ball around beautifully for an impressive 26 passes before the youngster rocketed the ball into the top corner, despite Kissas' best efforts to keep it out.

Apollon weren't going to keel over and collapse, instantly replying and forcing Joel Robles into three good saves - the first a wicked drive from Adrian Sardinero, the second a curling effort from Fotios Papoulis and the third a more comfortable effort gathered from Sardinero.

Kevin Mirallas almost had Everton's third in the 33rd minute but could only drag his shot from distance inches wide of the post.

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Apollon thought they had a goal back five minutes later as Papoulis glanced in a crossed free-kick, but the assistant ruled the Greek international's goal offside - replays showed it was marginal.

For a game that was described as dead rubber before kick-off with nothing to play for, the first-half was actually surprisingly entertaining.

Lookman nearly had his hat-trick after the restart - Vlasic back-heeled the ball through to the Englishman and he selfishly went for his third when the Croatian was perfectly positioned in the box for a square ball.

Kissas was forced into two quick fire saves in the 73rd minute as both Mirallas as Hornby fired straight at him from inside the penalty box.

Everton finally got their third goal with four minutes to go - Vlasic poked the ball past the onrushing Apollon defender and raced through to smash through the goalkeepers legs, scoring his second Everton goal against the same team that he scored his first against.

Their performance on the night juxtaposed their European campaign as as a whole, as they finally gave the fantastic fans that travelled all those miles something to shout about.

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