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Everton put themselves in a strong position to reach the Europa League group stage with a first-leg win over Hajduk Split marred by crowd trouble.
Hajduk fans surged towards the Goodison Park pitch and threw objects as play was stopped in the 33rd minute.
Moments earlier, Michael Keane had risen highest at the far post to head in Leighton Baines’ left-wing cross.
Idrissa Gueye slotted in when play resumed after a five-minute wait, giving the Toffees a healthy lead.
Hajduk, who finished third in the Croatian top-flight last season, pressed more in the second half as the Premier League side held on to a vital clean sheet.
Everton’s new £30m keeper Jordan Pickford produced three fine saves – including a smart save low to his left from Franck Ohandza – to stop the visitors netting a potentially crucial away goal.
Ronald Koeman’s side go to Croatia next Thursday for the second leg knowing a win, draw or single-goal defeat will guarantee their place in the Europa League group stage.
Where will Sigurdsson fit in?
Everton finally completed the club-record signing of Gylfi Sigurdsson on Wednesday after a protracted £45m move from Swansea, but the Iceland international – who did not feature for the Swans in pre-season while negotiations between the clubs continued – was not fit enough to make his debut against the Croatian side.
Toffees fans did catch a glimpse of their new man, however, when Sigurdsson was introduced to the Goodison Park crowd before kick-off.
Koeman has been a long-time admirer of Sigurdsson, having tried to sign the midfielder while in charge of Southampton, and it will be interesting to see how the Dutchman fits the 27-year-old into his Everton starting XI.
Although Ross Barkley could be set to depart, Koeman has plenty of attacking midfield options available following the summer signings of Wayne Rooney, Davy Klaassen and Sandro.
Rooney led the line against the Hajduk as Sandro missed out through injury, with Klaassen in the ‘number 10’ role and flanked by teenager Ademola Lookman and Belgium international Kevin Mirallas.
All three players responded with bright attacking performances, especially in the first half, as the Toffees went forward with pace and purpose.
Lookman particularly caught the eye, using his pace and trickery to ask questions of the Hajduk defence, and linking up to good effect with right-back Cuco Martina.
And with Rooney and Klaassen combining superbly to tee up Gueye’s goal, Koeman can be satisfied that he has several options to ponder when Sigurdsson comes into his squad.
More to follow.
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