Everton vs Dynamo Kiev match report: Romelu Lukaku finds his best form to forge crucial comeback

Everton 2 Dynamo Kiev 1: Striker sets up one and scores another from the penalty spot to save Europa League first leg tie

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The Independent Football

This was a stirring, even a romantic Everton comeback. The question that will pursue them into next week is whether it will be enough to see them through to the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

Their manager, Roberto Martinez, argued Everton needed a lead to protect in Kiev. After an opening half-hour of incompetent football in this Europa League last 16 first leg, it seemed difficult to believe they would be taking anything to Kiev except a deficit.

The night was swung and finally settled by Romelu Lukaku, who brilliantly set up the equaliser and then converted the penalty after Danilo Silva had needlessly handled Leon Osman’s low cross. Dynamo Kiev’s manager, Sergei Rebrov, will know that 1-0 in the Olympic Stadium will be enough but there were times it seemed unlikely they would even have to win.

Everton began having won as many games at Goodison in the Europa League as they have in the Premier League. But until Steven Naismith scored, it was hard to imagine a domestic fixture in which they had played worse.


They were a shambles, epitomised by the moment Antolin Alcaraz, who is enduring a disastrous season, turned under no pressure and almost passed straight to Dynamo’s centre-forward, Dieumerci Mbokani, who was practically standing on the penalty spot.

The atmosphere at Goodison had turned venomous. Kiev, who came into this game never having beaten a team in England in 11 attempts, appeared very confident, and the breakthrough came from a corner delivered by Kiev’s outstanding player, Andrei Yarmolenko. It was met by Oleg Gusev, who ran from the far to the near post to reach it, lost his marker James McCarthy, and clipped the ball home.

In the pre-match build-up Martinez stressed the vital importance of winning the first leg, given how unforgiving conditions are likely to be in Ukraine. Now they had conceded a precious away goal.

Dynamo Kiev, performing a sight better than their great rivals Shakhtar Donetsk, who were humiliated 7-0 by Bayern Munich on Wednesday, sensed they could finish things here and now. Sergei Sydorchuk sent a shot skidding on the sodden surface that Tim Howard shovelled away. It led to a corner that signalled a changed in the flow of the match.

Everton broke away, the Dynamo keeper, Oleksandr Shovkovskiy, dashed out of his area, made a hash of the clearance and, hopelessly stranded, gave Lukaku a chance to shoot into an unguarded net from 40 or so yards. He got nowhere near but soon afterwards a Lukaku free-kick was tipped over the bar, Silva cleared Phil Jagielka’s header off the line and then came an equaliser that showcased everything Lukaku should be.

Martinez’s assessment that the Belgian could be “one of the best strikers in the world” has appeared somewhat over-generous this season. Now, he powered and sashayed his way through four tackles before releasing Naismith, whose shot matched the work that had gone into creating it.

This changed the atmosphere, which went from mutinous to merely unimpressed.

It continued to improve. Arouna Koné and Lukaku forced fine saves on a surface where any shot had a chance of something. In response, Gusev’s went over the bar, Mbokani’s header skimmed it. Everton were playing like they always had in Europe, but Martinez will have known that alone was not enough. They had to win.

Man of the match Lukaku.

Match rating 7/10.

Referee C V Carballo (Spain).