Soccer News of Friday, 13 March 2015
Christian Atsu was an unused substitute as Everton beat Dynamo Kiev 2-1 at Goodison Park in the Last 16 of the Europa League.
Despite their struggles in the Premier League, Roberto Martinez’s men are thriving in Europe and they continued their fine form with a 2-1 over the Ukrainian giants.
It was not all plain-sailing though, as the visitors took the lead on 14 minutes through Oleh Husyev’s close-range effort.
Indeed, it could have been worse for the Blues as Kiev went close on several occasions, the crowd growing increasingly frustrated with Everton’s lack of cohesion.
However, in Romelu Lukaku they have a player capable of turning a contest on its head, and the Belgian did just that on 39 minutes when he dribbled past three defenders before setting up Steven Naismith to equalise.
Everton grew into the match and Lukaku confirmed the victory on 82 minutes with a penalty after Danilo Silva used his hand to control a Leon Osman pass.
Martinez opted to start with Lukaku leading the line ahead of an attacking three of Kevin Mirallas, Ross Barkley and Naismith. He made two substitutions during the game, but opted to bring on Osman and Ivorian forward Arouna Kone, leaving Atsu on the bench.
The contest represents another missed opportunity for the Ghanaian, who had been enjoying regular game-time in the European second-tier tournament.
However, as Everton’s chances of securing European qualification for next season via the Premier League slip away, Martinez is placer greater emphasis on the Europa League, playing his tried and trusted players rather than the peripheral Atsu.
Since arriving at Goodison Park on loan at the beginning of the season, the Black Star has featured four times in the Premier League and six times in Europe, although starting only twice.