Everton finished the preseason on a mostly positive note, defeating Real Betis 2-1 at Goodison Park. It's new head coach Roberto Martinez's first victory at home and gives the Toffees something to build on in the week ahead.
Everton were definitely a bit sluggish in the wake of all their traveling over the past month but to see them fight through and get a morale boosting victory was good to see. Striker Nikica Jelavic looked strong again and Kevin Mirallas looked good as well, though there's definitely work to be done this week in training.
If anything, it's about tweaking and getting everyone's legs ready to go and mentally focused. Some of the passing was less than acceptable today, but there were still flashes of what the team is capable of at moments. Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar offered up some reminders of what a dangerous combination they can be in the attack, but there wasn't enough of the passing style that Martinez has been pushing.
Most of the service Jelavic received was from long balls -- a bad habit Everton often fell into during the Moyes era -- and there's simply too much ability in the midfield for the Toffees to be resorting to hoofing the ball up field. Everton didn't even generate a decent chance until late in the first half but it was telling that when they finally scored, it was thanks to some creative passing.
Pienaar found Mirallas with an excellent ball as the Belgian cut inside. Mirallas found Jelavic lurking in the middle and the striker waited patiently for the Betis defense to open before beating goalkeeper Stephan Andersen.
Everton doubled their lead in the second half when Mirallas' cross into the Betis area was misplayed by Andersen as he spilled the ball into his own goal to make it 2-0 for the Toffees.
Betis spoiled the clean sheet in stoppage time when Brian Rodriguez beat Tim Howard on a short-range finish during a scramble in front of the goal.
Midfielder Darron Gibson left the match just before halftime with an apparent injury, though the club has yet to offer any information about his status. Marouane Fellaini was not in the 18 for Everton though Martinez said after the match that if it had been a competitive game, he would have been able to play. Fellaini was held out as a precaution due to an infection in a cut on his leg.
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