Despite crowd trouble at Goodison Park, Ronald Koeman’s Everton are in a strong position to secure a place in the Europa League group stage with a 2-0 win against Hajduk Split on Thursday.
Crowd trouble broke out shortly after former Burnley centre-back Michael Keane gave the home side the lead. Leighton Baines crossed in from the left and Keane rose at the far post to head the home side into the lead. The visiting fans reacted shortly after when objects were thrown onto the pitch and Split supporters looked like they would spill onto the pitch. Stewards and Police eventually restored order.
Both sets of players, from Everton and Hajduk Split, were forced to wait to one side of the Goodison Park pitch.
If Everton were left uneasy by the scene, it didn’t show in their performance. Shortly after the game resumed, Idrissa Gueye placed a shot low into the corner of the visiting teams goal.
Split did have opportunities to reduce the deficit and score an all-important away goal. However Everton’s club-record goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was well up for the challenge and pulled off a selection of fine saves.
The return leg will take place next Thursday – the 24th – at the Stadion Poljud. The Croatian side, who finished third in their domestic league last season, will be hoping to overturn Thursday’s defeat.
Before Everton will be able to focus wholly on that tie, they have Manchester City this coming Monday to think of first. The meeting at the City of Manchester Stadium will see just how far Everton’s spending has brought them.