Yannick Bolasie made his long-awaited return from injury in Everton Under-23s' 2-1 Premier League 2 defeat at Leicester City.
The winger came on as a substitute for the final half hour for his first taste of competitive action since sustaining knee ligament damage against Manchester United last December.
The young Blues had led through Fraser Hornby’s fine first-half solo effort, but two late goals condemned them to defeat.
The game started brightly, with Gethin Jones and Dennis Adeniran both having efforts blocked for Everton, before Joe Hilton saved comfortably from Ahmed Musa.
Both sides continued to create chances as Hornby – who made his first-team debut in last week’s 3-0 Europa League win over Apollon Limassol - tried his luck from long-range but failed to really trouble the keeper, and Hilton saved from Sam Hughes, Leicester’s Wirral-born defender.
The opening goal was one of real quality. Luke Garbutt fed the ball to Adeniran and his perfectly-placed pass was collected by Hornby who wriggled past two defenders before planting a low shot past Eldin Jakupovic.
David Henen then had a low drive smothered, and a free-kick from Garbutt almost deceived the home the keeper, who needed to help the ball over the bar after it bounce in front of him.
The Foxes should have levelled on the half hour but Musa fired wildly off target when Everton failed to clear a corner. Before the break, George Thomas curled a direct free-kick from 25 yards high over the bar.
The hard-working Toffees were good value for their interval lead and almost doubled it in the opening minute of the second period when Hornby headed a delightful free-kick from Garbutt just wide.
There was a let-off for Everton on 53 minutes when a header from Hughes clipped the top of the crossbar.
Bolasie’s first contribution after coming on was to head the ball back across goal for Morgan Feeney but the defender’s volley was blocked.
Having gone close to a 2-0 lead, Everton were undone by two late goals from Leicester defender Yohan Benalouane – the first a close-range shot and the second a hooked volley.