Injury to Amokachi worries Everton

Everton 3 KR Reykjavik 1 (Everton win 6-3 on aggregate)
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The Independent Online

Everton 3 KR Reykjavik 1 (Everton win 6-3 on aggregate)

Everton's progress in the European Cup-Winners' Cup was overshadowed last night when Daniel Amokachi had to be taken to a neurological unit at Walton Hospital after losing consciousness in a collision.

The Nigerian striker, scorer of the winner when these teams met in Iceland two weeks ago, underwent a brain scan after leaving Goodison still in a semi-conscious state. "Normally we don't worry when Daniel goes down because he's a strong lad," Joe Royle, the Everton manager, said, "but it was obvious when he came off he was quite poorly."

The accident happened in the 37th minute when Amokachi rose for a ball with Pormodur Egilsson and his team-mate Joe Parkinson. There was a clash of heads with the Reykjavik defender and Amokachi fell heavily and awkwardly but there was nothing to suggest he would be badly injured.

"Our physio, Les Helm, was on the pitch double-quick and he made the decision straight away that Daniel would have to come off," Royle said. He was treated by paramedics immediately and then transferred to hospital.

"I just ran in and challenged for the ball," Parkinson said. "Daniel's such a thick-set lad so it must have taken quite something to knock him out. I just hope he's OK."

Amokachi's condition, Royle said, meant the match did not matter. "He's having scans and a neuro-surgeon has been sent for. He got caught on the temple which, of course, is the softest part of the head. He never regained full consciousness although his eyes were flickering when he went off. We will have to wait and see.

"We don't want to get too carried away either way and I hope I'm right that the thing will settle down. On the football side of it, it's certain he won't play for a month, it's such a bad knock.

"We are now trying to contact his wife who is modelling somewhere on the Continent. But we'll find her. He is in the right place. We must just keep our fingers crossed now. It is just a matter of having to wait and see."

As for the match, itself, it would not have lingered in the memory even without Amokachi's injury. Royle had warned against conceding sloppy goals - a trait they have picked up in the Premiership - but Reykjavik's opener did not suggest his players had been listening. Mihajilo Bibercic passed the ball towards where the home centre-backs should have been but Einar Por Danielsson was allowed an unhindered passage towards Neville Southall. The Icelandic international midfielder drew the goalkeeper and slipped it under him.

A 1-0 deficit at half-time had not been anticipated but the scoreline was given a new gloss when Neville Southall had to change direction and go full stretch to his right to keep out a shot by Gudmundur Benediktss that was deflected off Dave Unsworth towards the bottom corner.

What Royle's reaction was to all this can only be imagined but Everton began the second half playing like the paint had been burnt off the dressing- room walls and, in the opening 10 minutes, looked considerably more threatening than they had been during the whole of the previous 45.

After 52 minutes, Parkinson hit a shot from 25 yards that shaved a post and two minutes later Paul Rideout had a powerful header that Kristjan Finnbogason did well to get down to at the foot of his left-hand post.

Nevertheless there was a definite sense of the tide turning and after 56 minutes Everton got an equaliser. Earl Barrett crossed from the right and Rideout beat his man in the air to head backwards for Graham Stuart on the edge of the area. He hit an acrobatic volley and he was fortunate to see the ball bounce off Brynjar Gunnarson and loop past Finnbogason into the net.

Seconds later Unsworth struck a shot that ricocheted off the crossbar and when Tony Grant controlled a pass from John Ebbrell and thumped a 20-yard shot in off the post after 65 minutes it was clear that Everton's crisis was over. Rideout's goal, three minutes from time, merely concluded the inevitable.

Everton (4-4-2): Southall; Barrett, Short, Unsworth, Hinchcliffe; Grant, Ebbrell, Parkinson, Limpar; Amokachi (Stuart, 38), Rideout.

KR Reykjavik (5-3-2): Finnbogason; S B Jonsson, Adolfsson, Egilsson, Gunnarsson, Dervic; Bjornsson, Gudjonsson, Danielsson; Benediktss (Porca, 81), Bibercic (Asmundur, 81).

Referee: L Gadosi (Slovakia).

Celtic's progress, results, page 30