Ademola Lookman struck a brace as a youthful Everton signed off from an underwhelming Europa League campaign with a 3-0 win at Apollon Limassol on Thursday.
Subbed at half-time of his only Premier League start this season, the 20-year-old scored twice inside the opening half hour to end his 20-match scoreless run in all competitions and give the Toffees their first win at the final attempt in Group E.
The visitors clearly had an eye on Sunday's derby against Liverpool in handing starting debuts to young trio Harry Charsley, Fraser Hornby and Morgan Feeney.
Lookman took his opportunity to impress by heading in the opener in the 21st minute, before he unleashed a long-range rocket soon after to effectively sew up third spot ahead of the Cypriot champions.
Kevin Mirallas added late polish to an accomplished three points with a calm one-on-one finish in the 87th minute, ensuring Apollon's first home defeat of the group stage.
In the absence of Sam Allardyce, who handed the reins to assistants Craig Shakespeare and Duncan Ferguson in order to attend a medical appointment, Everton will take all the encouragement they can get from a third straight competitive victory ahead of their visit to Anfield.
20 - Ademola Lookman goal tonight has ended a run of 20 competitive appearances for Everton without scoring, since netting on his debut for the club in January vs Man City. Wait. pic.twitter.com/cOi1nMqmDA— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 7, 2017
The young Blues were prised open inside six minutes as Fotis Papoulis found space on the left, but the winger harmlessly guided his finish over the bar.
Lookman had an even better chance to break the deadlock when he reeled in Davy Klaassen's through pass and stepped inside Joao Pedro, only to dally over his finish and invite the smother from Tasos Kissas.
Charsley's curler next drew an impressive fingertip save from Kissas in a lively start to proceedings.
And the visitors were rewarded for their bright opening as Nikola Vlasic collected a one-two with Kevin Mirallas and dinked a cross to the far post for Lookman to head high into the net.
Lookman only needed a further seven minutes to double his tally in spectacular style, the 20-year-old thumping a sweet strike from distance that burst through Kissas' hands.
26 - Ademola Lookman's second goal for Everton vs Apollon Limassol tonight ended a sequence of 26 passes. Confidence. pic.twitter.com/PVysXjwV8G— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 7, 2017
At the other end, Joel Robles was required to preserve the two-goal cushion with a quickfire trio of saves and the lead remained intact at the break, despite Apollon's appeals for a penalty on the stroke of half-time.
Robles was called on again to parry Allan's firm effort soon after the restart, while Kissas covered his near post to deny Lookman a hat-trick.
Apollon, now winless in 11 group stage matches, shipped a third late on as Mirallas broke clean through and consigned the hosts to their first home defeat in Group E.
Key Opta stats:
- Everton's starting XI in this game (23y 015d) was the youngest by an English club in Europe (excl. qualifiers) since Everton vs BATE Borisov in the Europa League in December 2009 (22y 319d).
- This was the lowest points tally by an English club in a Europa League group stage (four points) – beating the previous worst set by Wigan Athletic in 2013-14 (five points).
- Everton have now won three successive matches in all competitions – the same tally of wins that they recorded in their previous 20 competitive matches combined (W3 D5 L12).
- The Toffees have also kept a clean sheet in each of their last three competitive matches – this after conceding in each of their previous 13 games before this run (32 goals).
|Celtic 1 Red Bull Salzburg 2: Scottish champions through despite defeat|
|Olympiacos 3 AC Milan 1: Rossoneri crash out of Europa League|
|Arsenal 1 Qarabag 0: Lacazette on target as Saka shines|
|Hansen to leave: All Blacks will take time to name replacement|
|Chelsea condemn alleged anti-Semitic chanting from fans|
|Hansen to leave: The best Opta facts from New Zealand coach´s tenure|
|Hansen to leave: Five contenders to be the next All Blacks coach|
|Hansen to leave: Highs and highs of his All Blacks reign|
|Hansen to leave All Blacks after World Cup|
|Rapid Vienna 1 Rangers 0: Late Ljubicic winner sends Gerrard´s men out|
|Beckham continues to miss Giants practice with quad injury|
|Vidi 2 Chelsea 2: Giroud spares Sarri´s side in lacklustre draw|
|Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille fixtures among latest Ligue 1 cancellations|
|Santos turn to ex-Argentina boss Sampaoli|
|Muller could miss Champions League last 16 after Tagliafico kick|
|Home hope Bekker out in front at Alfred Dunhill Championship|
|Van Bommel in touch with Robben over PSV reunion|
|Pinarello chief confident over Team Sky future|
|Stade make Ospreys tickets free in tribute to teenager|
|WRC great Loeb seals Hyundai switch|
|Madrid rumours better than sack talk, says Pochettino|
|Nadal to join Federer at 2019 Laver Cup|
|Prigoda smashes world record, Hosszu dethroned in Hangzhou|
|Former Juve CEO Marotta takes over at Inter|
|Glenn to stand down as FA boss next year|
|Muller apologises to Tagliafico for kick to the head|
|Pereira pleads for more Manchester United chances|
|Griffin hails ´phenomenal´ Lowry after Warriors demolition|
|I´ve played with Zidane and Henry, but Messi is something else – Pires|
|Dragons forward Jack de Belin charged with sexual assault|
|Durant: Raptors are the real deal|
|Cocu bids farewell to Fenerbahce after ´mutual agreement´ is made over October sacking|
|Australia unchanged for historic Perth Test|
|Champions League draw: The possible last-16 ties|
|Southee happy to be back on home soil|
|I wouldn´t swap Dembele for Neymar – Pires|
|Canelo ready to risk heavy weather against Fielding|
|Raptors upstage Warriors, Davis leads Pelicans with 44 points|
|India skipper Kohli excited by green Perth wicket|
|PSG? I haven´t decided my future yet – De Jong|
|Marcelo: Real Madrid don´t have attitude problem|
|India pair Ashwin, Rohit ruled out of second Test|
|Kovac: Ajax-Bayern draw was amazing|
|Sims re-signs with Dragons until 2022|
|Derrius Guice injury update: Redskins RB (knee) has rehab setback, undergoes 3 more procedures|
|Emery: Arsenal could sign defender in January|
|Phillies sign McCutchen to three-year deal|
|O´Neal thinks his Lakers teams could ´easily´ beat Warriors|
|A-League to add two clubs by 2020|
|Curry says he was ´obviously joking´ about moon landing comments|
|Now the beautiful part starts – Ronaldo ready for Champions League knockout stage|
|Bayern have a lot more potential – Lewandowski not satisfied despite top spot|
|Lyon star Fekir shares plaudits for Champions League progression|
|Mourinho not surprised by United´s defeat to Valencia|
|Motivation no issue for Benfica, claims Vitoria|
|Lewandowski finishes Champions League group stage as top scorer|
|Mourinho: We scored two goals and lost 2-1!|
|England have a diamond - Guardiola hails City´s Foden|
|Sterling´s carefree display invites us to love football more than others hate|
|Juventus achieved their objective, despite everything going wrong – Allegri|
|Never say never - Schmidt not ruling out All Blacks role|
|Bologna´s winning start ended in BCL|
|Di Francesco critical of Roma performance|
|Shakhtar Donetsk 1 Lyon 1: Fekir fires French side through in Group F|
|Benfica 1 AEK Athens 0: Grimaldo sends hosts out on a high|
|Young Boys 2 Juventus 1: Hoarau double seals famous victory|
|Manchester City 2 Hoffenheim 1: City through as group winners after Sane brace|
|Ajax 3 Bayern Munich 3: Kovac´s men clinch top spot in Amsterdam thriller|
|Valencia 2 Manchester United 1: Jones scores own goal as Red Devils limp through|
|Solari accepts responsibility for Madrid´s heaviest home defeat in Europe|