Leighton Baines

Nigel French/PA via AP

Everton 2-0 Hajduk Split: Toffees cruise in Europa League first leg

Leave a comment
  • Keane nabs first EFC goal
  • Baines, Rooney with classy assists
  • Gueye scores rare goal
  • Second leg Aug. 24 in Croatia

Michael Keane and Idrissa Gana Gueye scored as Everton took a 2-0 lead over HNK Hajduk Split in a UEFA Europa League playoff round first leg at Goodison Park on Thursday.

Leighton Baines and Wayne Rooney had assists for the Toffees, while Jordan Pickford, Ademola Lookman, and Davy Klaassen also posted lively performances for the hosts ahead of next week’s second leg.

The Toffees could’ve scored four or five if not for questionable offside calls alone, and the match was interrupted in the first half when the Hajduk support section got out of hand.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Ademola Lookman won an early corner for Everton that led to nothing, and played a terrific ball into the center of the box that Davy Klaassen just missed with a sliding effort.

Hajduk had a moment in two in transition, but the Toffees handled it well. Baines in particular broke up the earliest sign of danger.

The breakthrough goal was splendid, with Baines scooping up a punched corner kick and darting past a defender to dink an aesthetically-pleasing ball into traffic for Keane to head home. 1-0, 30′.

The match was stalled for 5-10 minutes after riotous behavior from visiting Hajduk Split supporters, who tossed bottles onto the field and charged at the stewards (one appeared to punch a security guard).

The Toffees went up 2-0 off a classy assist from Rooney, who was moving away from the defense when he cut a ball to a darting Gueye. The Senegalese engine provided a rare goal in the 45th minute.

[ MORE: Europa League schedule ]

The chances were at a premium for both sides in the second half, with Everton still having the better of play. But Jordan Pickford had to get horizontal to make an outstanding two-handed parry on a Hajduk rush in the 61st minute.

Hajduk really found its game late as Everton seemed to rest on its laurels. Pickford was livid, and called into duty to make some big stops and preserve an important home clean sheet.

UEFA Europa League wrap: Everton, Milan, Marseille take leads

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
1 Comment

Lone Premier League contestants Everton controlled proceedings at home but had trouble finding the finishing touch, while Milan and Marseille got goals from summer signings to nab wins of their own in the first legs of the UEFA Europa League’s third qualifying round on Thursday

[ MORE: Mendy a doubt for PL opener ]

All but two of the second legs will be held Aug. 3, with Sion-Suduva and AEL Limassol-Austria Wien the previous day.

Everton 1-0 MFK Ruzomberok

For over an hour, Everton had better than 70 percent possession at Goodison Park and nothing to show for it. But Leighton Baines‘ 65th minute rip deflected home to give the Toffees a deserved lead over its Slovakian opposition ahead of next week’s match in Ruzomberok.

Everton finished the match with a 20-8 edge in shots and 72 percent possession.

CSU Craiova 0-1 AC Milan

New Milan man Ricardo Rodriguez bagged a 44th minute free kick to give the free-spending Rossoneri a notable start to life in the UEL.

Marseille 4-2 KV Oostende

Valere Germain’s move from Monaco to Marseille is paying big dividends already, with French striker helping himself to a hat trick at his new home stadium.

UEFA Europa League first legs
Mlada Boleslav 2-1 Skenderbeu Korce
Trakai 2-1 FK Shkendija
Olimpia Donetsk 1-1 PAOK
Maccabi Tel-Aviv 1-0 Panionios
Utrecht 0-0 Lech Poznan
AIK 1-1 Sporting Braga
PSV Eindhoven 0-1 Osijek
SK Sturm Graz 1-2 Fenerbahce
Suduva 3-0 Sion
Krasnodar 2-1 Lyngby BK
AEK Lamaca 2-0 Dinamo Minsk
Dinamo Bucuresti 1-1 Athletic Bilbao
Botev Plovdiv 0-0 Maritimo
Bnei Yehuda 0-2 Zenit St. Petersburg
Astra Giurgiu 0-0 Oleksandriya
Brondby 0-0 Hajduk Split
Arka Gdynia 3-2 Midtjylland
Gent 1-1 Rheindorf Altach
Red Star Belgrade 2-0 Sparta Prague
Panathinaikos 1-0 Gabala
Bordeaux 2-1 Videoton
Aberdeen 2-1 Apollon Limassol
Dinamo Zagreb 2-1 Odd Grenland
Freiburg 1-0 Domzale
Austria Wien 0-0 AEL Limassol

Premier League Preview: Swansea City vs. Everton

Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images
Leave a comment
  • Sides drew 1-1 at Goodison on Nov. 19
  • Toffees haven’t lost PL match at Swans
  • Everton leads all-time 15W-9D-2L

Everton center back Ashley Williams makes his return to Swansea City with his longtime club on the precipice of a fall into England’s second tier (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Williams made 352 appearances for Swansea before the Welsh side sold him this summer. Swans have battled the drop under the guidance of three managers, and sit two points behind Hull City and six back of Crystal Palace with three matches to play.

As for Everton, it’s plans of making the Top Four race uncomfortable for the PL’s powers had taken a hit in recent weeks. It’s almost certain Ronald Koeman‘s men will finish in 7th. The Toffees announced Friday that they’ve signed Seamus Coleman to a contract extension.

What they’re saying

Leighton Baines on visiting Swansea“Swansea are a side who play good football but they are fighting for their lives at the moment so we expect a good atmosphere, a charged-up Swansea side and we have to be prepared to match that. The new manager has come in and done well. He’s changed things up a little bit in the starting XI and they seem to have responded to that. It’s going to be a good test for us but it’s a game we know we’re capable of winning.”

Swans’ Gylfi Sigurdsson on battling the drop“If anything, you must thrive on that pressure and turn it into a positive. You are not in football to play without anything at stake, so we must use the pressure of what is riding on these games and turn that into performances and points. When you lose four or five games against the teams around you then it obviously affects your confidence, but we reacted well to that and the performances and results against Stoke and Manchester United have certainly restored our confidence.”

Prediction

Everton has been shut out in consecutive matches and it’s hard to think Romelu Lukaku and company will be kept off the sheet a third time. Swansea’s hopes take a hit with a 3-1 loss.

New deals for Everton trio Baines, Barry, Holgate

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Everton is coming off a big win over Arsenal, and building on the good vibes by announcing new contracts for three Toffees.

Seemingly ageless Gareth Barry — he’s 35 — joins playmaking defender Leighton Baines and young gun Mason Holgate in committing their futures to Goodison Park.

[ MORE: MLS gives new expansion timeline ]

Barry is now committed through the 2017-18 season, giving him a chance to catch Ryan Giggs‘ record for Premier League appearances. Barry has 609 and sits 23 behind Giggs. Everton has 22 matches left in this season.

Baines is no spring chicken, either. The 32-year-old left-footed back has made 362 appearances in the Premier League, the first 72 with Wigan Athletic. He has 29 goals and 54 assists, and will stay at Goodison through the 2018-19 season.

Holgate, 2o, has just four Premier League appearances and is widely-tipped as a critical part of the club’s future at center back. He’s played twice at CB and twice at right back this season. His new deal stretches into June 2021.

Follow @NicholasMendola

WATCH: Everton holds off manic Arsenal with goal mouth clearances

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
4 Comments

Everton’s hot run to start the season had significantly cooled. Turns out it took a red-hot opponent to reinvigorate the Toffees.

And it went down to the wire, too.

[ RECAP: Everton 2-1 Arsenal ]

Everton defender Ashley Williams saw an early shot deflect off his leg and into the goal before Seamus Coleman equalized, setting the stage for Williams to head home a winner that ended Arsenal’s unbeaten Premier League run at 14 games.

“It’s nice to get my first goal for Everton. I was disappointed with their goal, so it’s nice to make up for it in the end. … I should’ve done better on that. I was disappointed, and was desperate to get one at the other end.

“This was about trying to put things right”

Williams’ 86th minute goal wasn’t quite enough, as Coleman and Leighton Baines made thrilling stoppage time blocks to seal the win (See above).

As for the goal, check it here:

Follow @NicholasMendola