Yannick Bolasie spoke of his mixed emotions after tasting defeat on his long-awaited return to action at Goodison Park.
The DR Congo international was sidelined for more than a year after sustaining a serious knee injury against Manchester United in December 2016.
After making his comeback in away games against West Bromwich Albion and Bournemouth over the festive period, Bolasie returned to grace the Goodison turf, coincidentally, against the same opponents he last faced on home soil.
Handed a start and operating on the left flank, Bolasie caught the eye with a couple of trademark dribbles and skills before being withdrawn on 62 minutes.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been able to find space like that,” he said. “There were some counter-attacks we had and when I get my match fitness I will probably be able to do that at a higher intensity and more often for the team. I think that would have been beneficial.
“But I’ve just come back from an injury and being out for a year, so I’m happy to be back out on the pitch.”
Second-half goals from Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard saw Everton open 2018 with defeat - and, following a promising first-half display, Bolasie believes the Blues showed “too much respect” to the Red Devils.
“It was very disappointing,” he added. “At home, especially, you want to show the fans what you’ve really got but today wasn’t the best.
“I thought the first half was okay but then the second half we dropped off a little bit and probably showed them a little bit too much respect in a way. It’s a lesson we have to learn from. It’s not the best way to start the new year but we’ve got games coming thick and fast so we have to concentrate on the next thing coming.”