Goals from Andrea Masiello, Alejandro Gomez and Bryan Cristante condemn Ronald Koeman’s side to three straight defeats
EVERTON suffered a third successive spanking as they were completely outplayed by their Italian opponents in their first Europa League group match.
The Toffees had been chewed up and spit out by Chelsea and Tottenham in their previous outings, but this was an even more one-sided affair.
First half goals from Andrea Masiello, Alejandro Gomez and Bryan Cristante rammed home the Serie A side’s superiority, and Everton have now conceded eight times in their last three games – without finding the net once
Ronald Koeman must wonder what he got for the £155 million he spent on ten new players during the summer.
His attempts to cushion the loss of Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United are blowing up in his face after a half-decent start to the campaign.
And when Lukaku watches the tape of this defensive shambles, he will surely be licking his lips at the thought of improving on his goal a game strike rate when his former team-mates head to Old Trafford on Sunday.
That has never been a happy hunting ground for Everton – and failing to trouble the scorers in Italy is hardly a new experience for the Merseysiders either.
They have now travelled here four times in European competition – and have lost the lot, without even a goal to show for their efforts.
But this must rank as their worst experience at the hands of the Azzurri, and it could have been even worse if Atalanta had not eased off after scoring those three early goals.
Koeman made six changes to the team blown away 3-0 at Goodison Park by Tottenham – after accusing his players of being “too nice”, and demanding more aggression.
Mporgan Schneiderlin responded with a meaty tackle on Atalanta captain Gomez that would surely have brought him a yellow card if it had not happened so early in the game.
But that was virtually the last sign of defiance from the Merseysiders, as the twinkle-toed Gomez inspired his team to their rampant first half performance.
Central defender Andrea Masiello took advantage of the fact that he had virtually nothing to do at the back by charging forward to open the scoring after 27 minutes.
He made amends for a bad miss a few moments earlier by stabbing the ball home at the far post. And Everton simply fell apart.
Gomez bagged the second goal with a superb curling shot from the edge of the penalty area, and the Everton defenders seemed transfixed as Bryan Cristante strolled through to make it two goals in three minutes.
Everton finally offered a threat when Wayne Rooney, forced a low save from Erit Berisha, but Stekelenburg had to produce a better stop to deny Andrew Petagna as the home team responded.
Rooney had earlier given the travelling fans something to get excited about with a clever chip that had Berisha back-pedalling furiously before the ball landed on the roof of the net .
But it was the Atlanta fans who were cheering when he was substituted after 66 minutes.
And even though Everton imp[roved after the break – they could hardly have got any worse – only wasteful second half finishing from the home team prevented this become a total rout.
WHAT THEY SAID
Everton boss Ronald Koeman speaking to BT Sport: “A lot went wrong. Except maybe after the first 10 minutes, where he had a little better of the ball and it was more comfortable.
“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 ask 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 they showed in first half was much bigger than we showed.”
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