BATE Borisov v Everton
Two second half goals gave Everton a tremendous 2-1 success in Belarus against FC BATE Borisov.
Trailing at the break, strikes from Marouane Fellaini and Tim Cahill turned this Europa League clash Everton’s way.
A thigh injury picked up in training on Wednesday evening cost Joseph Yobo a place in the squad and David Moyes was forced to play Tony Hibbert alongside Sylvain Distin at the heart of the Everton defence.
Dan Gosling switched to right-back and Yakubu and Jo were paired together in attack.
The Toffees pressed forward straight from the kick-off and within 20 seconds of the start, Tim Cahill’s well struck effort needed sharp attention from Sergie Veremko in the FC BATE goal.
Pavel Nekhaychik was the first to threaten for the home side but an excellent tackle by Hibbert stopped him in his tracks inside the box.
Back in Eastern Europe, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov was desperately unlucky after 14 minutes when his ferocious drive flew past the keeper but smacked against the left-hand post
FC BATE took the lead a couple of minutes later when Dmitri Likhtarovich beat Tim Howard all ends up with a stunning shot from 20 yards.
Everton should have levelled on 26 minutes when Yakubu created an opening for Tim Cahill but the normally clinical Aussie pulled a poor shot wide of the target from six yards.
The visitors were certainly forcing the issue and when Bilyaletdinov danced his way to the by-line and chipped a nice cross into the box all that was missing was a final touch.
FC BATE took the ascendancy at the start of the second period but Everton defended stoutly and protected Tim Howard fairly comfortably. Indeed, it was the Blues who nearly carved an opening when Leon Osman showed clever footwork to break clear only for his final pass to cannon off a defender into the grateful arms of Veremko.
For the main, though, the ball stayed in the Everton half of the field. As quickly as it was being cleared it was coming back again and David Moyes cut an increasingly agitated figure in the technical area.
He was a saturated figure too as the driving rain was incessant on a miserable Minsk night.
However, the drenched travelling Toffees were soon singing in the rain!
Everton equalised in the 69th minute. Yakubu was crudely upended on the edge of the box and when Leighton Baines whipped over the free-kick, Marouane Fellaini was left unmarked to guide a downward header into the corner of the net.
On 77, Everton took the lead. Tim Cahill looked suspiciously offside when he chased a forward punt but the flag stayed down and he lofted the ball over Veremko.
It proved to be the winner.
Injury, suspension and ineligibility deprived Moyes of no less than TEN first-team squad members so this was a magnificent victory for Everton.
Tony Hibbert was excellent in his temporary central role alongside the wonderfully reliable Distin, whilst Dan Gosling also excelled in unfamiliar territory.