Everton’s three debutants received praise from Ronald Koeman after the final whistle of Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur.
The Blues kicked off their 2016/17 campaign with a fair point against the Londoners at Goodison Park, with the new manager especially pleased with the performance during the opening 45 minutes.
Ross Barkley’s free-kick put the Toffees ahead early on before Gerard Deulofeu was thwarted when through on goal in first-half stoppage time.
Erik Lamela’s second-half header squared things up with summer signing Maarten Stekelenburg producing two stunning saves to prevent the visitors from taking the lead.
The Blues were impressive from the first whistle, with recent arrival Idrissa Gueye also catching the eye on his competitive debut. The same could be said for youngster Mason Holgate who filled in at the back with assurance.
Koeman declared himself pleased overall in his post-match interview with evertontv.
“We lost a bit of control of the game in the last part of the second half, but overall I am very happy with the performance,” he explained.
“The first 45 minutes was really excellent - the energy we put in the game and the reaction of the fans supporting the team. We had the best chances. Before half-time we had a big opportunity to score the second goal which would have made it a totally different second half.”
On Gueye, who scooped the Man of the Match award from Evertonians voting on Twitter, Koeman added: “The cleverness on the ball in midfield comes from Gareth Barry but one of Idrissa’s qualities is to put that energy in the team, to win second balls and to press at the right moment.”
Stekelenburg’s saves from Janssen and Lamela had the sold-out Goodison crowd on their feet and Koeman admitted they were crucial to the final outcome.
“His saves were very important in that stage of the second half,” the manager continued. “Tottenham created the best chances in the final stages and you need to have a good goalkeeper to make saves in key moments and he has that quality.”
And 19-year-old Holgate was another to fare well on his first Everton outing after impressing in pre-season.
“He’s doing well and that’s not age dependent,” added the Blues boss. “We have some injuries which meant we chose this system today. Maybe he was one second too late for the equaliser to close the gap on Lamela but overall he had a very good performance.”