Atalanta 3-0 Everton

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Everton managed just two shots on target against Atalanta. Their next Group E match is against Apollon Limassol at Goodison Park on 28 September

Everton produced a dreadful performance as they lost their Europa League opener against Atalanta in Italy.

The home side dominated from the outset, taking the lead when Everton failed to deal with a corner, with the ball ricocheting off Phil Jagielka’s hip and falling to Andrea Masiello to poke in.

Alejandro Gomez doubled the lead with a stunning curling strike, before Bryan Cristante drove through the Toffees’ defence and placed the ball into the corner, with Everton 3-0 down at half-time.

It was more of the same from Atalanta in the second half, minus the goals, with Andrea Petagna hitting the woodwork after being set up by former Middlesbrough midfielder Marten de Roon.

French side Lyon were held 1-1 in Cyprus by Apollon Limassol in the other Group E game.

Everton still too nice

Ronald Koeman’s Everton have now lose 3-0 in two consecutive games

Before the match, Ronald Koeman said he was taking the Europa League “very seriously”. He also said Everton were “too nice” as they were beaten 3-0 at home by Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday.

The Dutchman made six changes from that defeat, but his team failed to show the intent and aggression the manager craved, with their performance arguably worse than that against Spurs.

Atalanta were clinical, controlled possession and utilised the wings. Everton were continuously on the back foot and gave the ball away far too often, with any move for a counter-attack breaking down. Dominic Calvert-Lewin, leading the line, hardly featured in the game.

They were fortunate to only be three down at the break, Masiello could have had a hat-trick had it not been for two fine saves from Maarten Stekelenburg in the Everton goal. Hans Hateboer also came close with a shot across the goal, with Michael Keane getting an important touch to deny him.

Having invested heavily in the squad this summer, Koeman fielded new signings Gylfi Sigurdsson, Michael Keane, Nikola Vlasic and Wayne Rooney in his starting line-up. Vlasic, a deadline-day signing from Hajduk Split, was at fault for Gomez’ goal, allowing the Argentine to cut inside after a lazy-looking challenge.

Atlanta’s return to Europe

It was 26 years since Atalanta played in Europe. La Dea reached the quarter-finals of the Uefa Cup in 1991, where fellow Italian side Inter Milan put them out

The game took place in Serie A side Sassuolo’s Mapei Stadium, with Atalanta’s ground being renovated.

Despite being 120 miles away from their home in Lombardy, the Atalanta fans travelled in their numbers and were in full voice as their side made a spectacular start to their first outing in Europe since reaching the quarter-finals of the Uefa Cup in 1991.

Gomez’ superb strike showed exactly why he was one of the standout stars in Serie A last season. He scored 16 goals in the Italian domestic league as Atalanta beat Lazio to fourth place.

Elsewhere in the Europa League

What next for the Toffees?

After back-to-back 3-0 defeats, Everton face Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday (16:00 BST).

The match will see Rooney return to Old Trafford, while striker Romelu Lukaku will face his old club for the first time since joining Manchester United from Everton in July.

With Everton failing to replace the Belgian in the transfer window, Lukaku could well show Koeman the goalscoring prowess they have been missing this season.

‘I need to criticise myself’ – Koeman

Everton boss Ronald Koeman on BT Sport: “Our ball position was poor but most painful was in the first half – they showed more aggression, they showed more passion. That’s really painful because it starts with that and then you need quality on the ball.

“I asked myself questions on what I was doing wrong against Tottenham, because it’s not how I like to see my team. We can play bad football, we can miss chances, but the commitment and passion Atalanta showed in first half was much bigger than we showed.

“This is not the time or place to criticise players, I need to criticise myself because the team was not prepared for this tonight.”

Everton’s poor showing in Italy – the key stats

  • English sides have lost 10 of their last 14 visits to Italy in European competition (W2 D2 L10).
  • Everton have now lost all four of their away games in Italy without scoring a single goal.
  • This is only the third time that an English club has lost their opening group-stage game of a Europa League campaign. The other two were Birmingham City in 2011-12 and Manchester United in 2016-17 – although Jose Mourinho’s side ended up winning the tournament.
  • Everton conceded three goals before half-time in a competitive fixture for the first time since November 2016 (0-5 at Chelsea).
  • Atalanta scored three goals in the first half of a European game for the first time.
  • Five of Everton’s starting XI on Thursday were not born when Atalanta scored their previous goal in Europe (December 1990).
  • Everton have managed four shots on target in their past three matches. Their opponents have had 21 shots on target in those games.

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