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27th August 2009 17:00

Sigma Olomouc v Everton

Everton strolled into the Europa League group stages by securing a 5-1 aggregate win against Sigma Olomouc.

While an extended run in continental competition was assured, the night was also notable for the early sending off of Tony Hibbert, the return of striker Yakubu and a debut for 17-year-old James Wallace.

Yakubu, who scored within 31 seconds of his comeback with the reserve team on Tuesday, played the final 14 minutes - his first first-team action since rupturing an Achilles in November last year.

As with the first leg Olomouc started brightly and Moyes must have briefly worried when Hibbert saw red on nine minutes. 

But Steven Pienaar's thumping strike on the brink of half time put the tie beyond doubt.

And while Pavel Sultes hit a late consolation, 10-man Everton rarely suffered from their early blow.

Moyes made two changes to the side which lost 1-0 at Burnley on Sunday, as striker Jo and midfielder Dan Gosling came in for Louis Saha and Tim Cahill.

With a four-goal cushion and Sunday's visit of Wigan in mind, Everton were never going to tear out of the traps.

Tony Hibbert's adjudged foul on Jakub PetrTony Hibbert's adjudged foul on Jakub Petr

For much of the first half, the Blues welcomed their hosts, contented to let them do the running in the sweltering early evening heat.

The early dismissal of  Hibbert gave Moyes' men further reason to shut up shop, though there were more than a few anxious moments before Pienaar's opener.

Tomas Janotka forced Howard into a save within three minutes and the American had to be alert to divert the Lukas Bajer freekick which resulted from Hibbert's sending off.

It came after referee Fredy Fautrel adjudged him to have illegally brought down Jakub Petr with a clear sight of goal, just inches outside the box. Hibbert may well seek an apology from fellow defender Leighton Baines later  - his last-ditch attempt to stop Petr was the result of the left back's misjudged back pass.

Lone striker Jo had to wait until the 18th minutes for his first sight of goal but came close, his cushioned effort trickling narrowly wide of the post.

For the most part the Blues continued to soak up the pressure though and the closest the hosts came was when a rocket from Tomas Horova sailed high and wide from 20-yards.

It meant forays forward were few and far between but one, on the stroke of half time, provided the goal which eliminated any lingering doubts about Everton's place in the next phase of the Europa League.

Marouane Fellaini gets away from Pavel DreksaMarouane Fellaini gets away from Pavel Dreksa 

Sigma's defence failed to deal with Leon Osman's cross from the right and when the ball fell to Pienaar in acres of space 10-yards out, the South African lashed past Tomas Lovasik.

The blow to Olomouc had the effect Moyes would have wanted. Disheartened, they showed little in a low key second half.

In fact, it took until the 64th minute for Howard to make his next real save - a comfortable one - from Marek Kascak.

With the freedom to experiment, Moyes handed a debut to teenager Wallace, who replaced Pienaar.

Jose Baxter was also thrown into the fray in place of Leon Osman and both were soon followed by the fit-again Yakubu. Replacing Jo, the Nigerian showed some promising touches in 14 minutes where, in truth, he had little to do.

Sigma did register a consolation with 10 minutes to go, Sultes firing through a crowded penalty box to beat Howard from 20-yards.


By Adam Clark

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