Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s calm finish kept Everton’s bid for Europa League qualification on course as Ronald Koeman’s men edged MFK Ruzomberok 1-0 in Slovakia.
England Under-20 star Calvert-Lewin spared the Toffees’ blushes with a late strike in eastern Europe, sealing a 2-0 aggregate victory for the Merseyside club in the third qualifying round.
Wayne Rooney again drew a blank in front of goal as he feels his way into his second Everton stint, but Koeman’s side did just enough to progress.
A below-par Everton laboured for their win, but still conjured the one moment of class required to move into the Europa League play-off round.
Calvert-Lewin’s smart goal added to Leighton Baines’ first-leg strike to ensure Everton stepped further forward in European qualifying action.
Big-money summer signing Jordan Pickford started in goal and was able to keep a clean sheet, as Everton avoided any embarrassment on the road.
The visitors dominated territory and possession but were unable to find any kind of cutting edge – that was until replacement Calvert-Lewin pounced went clean through on goal and guided the ball into the bottom corner with a first-time finish on the run.
Here’s how the Toffees rated in Slovakia…
Pickford 7 – First impressions of £30m keeper on debut were reassuring. Nimble and competent
Williams 5 – Careless distribution, unconvincing and uneasy in three-man back line
Keane 7 – MOM Most assertive of Everton’s three centre backs, broke forward where possibles
Jagielka 6 – Fortified by extended contract but not his most comfortable night
Davies 6 – Surprise pick at right wing-back hugged touchline and maintained energetic shuttle
Schneiderlin 5 – Held the fort well enough but never took game by scruff of neck
Gueye 5 – More infantry than heavy artillery, flattered to deceive too often
Baines 6 – Steady and reliable, but so is my Vauxhall Astra
Klaassen 6 – Flickers of promise but never managed to pick the ‘killer’ pass
Ramirez 5 – Promised more than he delivered, especially his wayward shooting
Rooney 6 – His 50th start for Everton, but looks to have a great future behind him
Subs – Calvert-Lewin (Ramirez, 69) 7, Barry (Schneiderlin, 82), Mirallas (Rooney, 86)