Everton ended their Europa League involvement on a positive note with a 3-0 victory over Apollon Limassol in Cyprus as five players made their Blues debuts.
Ademola Lookman’s early double - his first goals since January - earned the already-eliminated Toffees a consolation victory in their final Group E fixture.
Harry Charsley and Fraser Hornby were both named in a starting XI with an average age of just under 23 to earn their respective first-team bows, while Nathan Broadhead, Anthony Gordon and Alex Denny stepped off the bench late on to make it a memorable night for the Club’s youngsters.
And it was one of those teenage substitutes - Broadhead - who played in Nikola Vlasic to complete the scoring three minutes from time with a fine solo effort.
First-team coach Craig Shakespeare, who was leading the team in manager Sam Allardyce’s absence, will have been encouraged with what he saw from a much-changed Toffees side. Six of the 11 starters were aged 21 or under, including 18-year-old centre-back Morgan Feeney for whom it was an impressive full Toffees debut.
Everton finish their Euro campaign in third place in Group E, behind Atalanta and Lyon, who both advance to the knockout rounds.
Despite it being a cloudless Cypriot afternoon, temperatures dropped for the 8pm kick-off in the capital city of Nicosia. The visitors, unsurprisingly, were backed by the usual strong support, with 1,400 fans making the 2,800-mile trip from Merseyside.
Everton passed the ball well right from the off but it was Apollon who spurned the game’s first chance of note. Fotis Papoulis should have done better having been set free down the left channel before blazing over.
The same could also be said of Lookman who, prior to netting his first-half double, was also guilty of not making the most of a brilliant team move which started with a surging run out of defence from Muhamed Besic. Lookman had all the time in the world after beating the offside trap but shot instead of opting for a square pass to the unmarked Davy Klaassen. Still it took a smart stop from Tasos Kissas to keep the game goalless.
The Apollon keeper then pulled off an even better save to prevent Charsley netting a dream debut goal. The Republic of Ireland youth international looked to have bent an inch-perfect curler into the top corner, only to be denied by Kissas’ intervention.
Everton deservedly went ahead on 20 minutes when Lookman planted a far post header into the roof of the net - just his second-ever Everton goal. Again it stemmed from another spritely move involving several players - Vlasic did well to keep the ball in play and from his deep cross, the England Under-20 World Cup winner nodded in from five yards out.
Lookman was at it again not too long after, this time belting a ferocious right-foot effort from distance into the top corner. It was a a superb strike Kissas could do nothing about and, having gone 20 games without netting for Everton, Lookman had bagged a brace within the space of seven minutes. Moreover, the move that led to the goal included 26 passes and saw the ball touched by every Blues player on the pitch.
The advantage could have been even greater at the midway point had Kevin Mirallas’ skidding low shot crept inside the post rather than past it, and a crisp drive from Vlasic evaded Kissas.
Although Everton deserved to be ahead at the interval, Apollon did have their moments in a entertaining first 45 minutes. Joel Robles made three saves in quick succession and a header from Papoulis found the net, only to be ruled out for offside
Lookman had the beating of Apollon right-back Joao Pedro every time he went up against him - and it was more of the same once play resumed. The former Charlton youngster had his eyes on a hat-trick when he skinned the Portuguese defender 10 minutes into the second half, but he was thwarted from a narrow angle by another decent save from Kissas, who had impressed despite conceding twice.
The goalkeeper followed this up with two more good contributions with his legs, repelling efforts from Mirallas and Vlasic as the Blues went in search of another goal to kill off the contest.
Feeney was the only recognised defender in Everton’s back-four and the 18-year-old was doing a fine job at centre-half in what was only his second Toffees appearance. He made a fine, latch-ditch challenge on Andre Schembri - highlighting his fine positional sense - just as the forward was about to get a shot away.
The average age of Everton’s bench was less than 18 years old and, indeed, none of the players on it had previously experienced competitive first-team football for Everton.
Nonetheless, Shakespeare turned to his spare squad members on 82 minutes, sending on Broadhead for Hornby.
Five minutes later the Welsh winger guided Robles punt forward on to Vlasic and the Croatian expertly worked his way towards the box before calmly slotting Everton’s third.
Sixteen-year-old Gordon then became the fourth debutant of the night and sixth youngest player in Toffees history, replacing Mirallas with two minutes to go, and Denny swapped places with Charsley in injury-time to make it a quintet of new Blues to celebrate.