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Krasnodar 1-1 Everton: match report

Samuel Eto'o the hero as Everton claim point.

Chris Brunskill

Everton's epic 4,000 mile round trip was always going to be a relative step into the unknown, so it was of little surprise that one of the more experienced members of the squad would prove pivotal on the night.

Samuel Eto'o may not possess the powers he previously had, but he still has a lot to offer and popped up with a timely equaliser that keeps Everton two points clear at the top of Group H.

Prior to that Everton had struggled to impose themselves on an impressive looking Krasnodar side, who had most of the early possession.

Marat Izmailov drew a smart stop out of Tim Howard, before the American tipped a Artur Jedrzejczyk effort around the post a few minutes later.

That seemed to spark Everton into life, with Aiden McGeady seeing a low effort pushed wide by Andriy Dikan. Gareth Barry also saw a long-range curler pushed away by the goalkeeper before John Stones planted a header wide when well placed in the box.

By this stage Everton were settled and restricting Krasnodar to long-range efforts, before familiar defensive failings came back to haunt them.

Odil Ahmedov's hopeful pass should have been dealt with but instead Phil Jagielka's touch took Stones out of the game and presented the ball to Brazilian striker Ari, who volleyed home past Howard.

Roberto Martinez brought on Romelu Lukaku for the ineffective Cristian Atsu at the break but it had little initial effect.

In fact, Everton became increasingly ragged as the Russian side pushed for a second, Ahmedov and  Izmailov seeing efforts blocked by flailing Toffees legs.

Substitute Wanderson then danced through the Everton backline but saw his shot clip the top of the bar with Howard beaten.

That was undoubtedly the turning point of the game as Krasnodar began to sink deeper into their half and try and hang on to the 1-0 lead.

Everton finally began to put their opponents under some concerted pressure and were rewarded with eight minutes left.

Stones did well to win possession and stop a Krasnodar counter-attack, allowing Eto'o to feed Baines on the right, the England man then curled the ball in for the Cameroon striker to divert home from close range.

Everton could have won the game minutes later but Lukaku's downward header was pushed away by goalkeeper Dikan, though that really would have been a smash and grab result.

In the end Everton should be well pleased with a draw in a game where they failed to hit the heights. Roberto Martinez has repeatedly stated that the Europa League is a valuable learning experience for his squad and they will have taken a lot from this game. Not least from the performance of Eto'o, who may well prove to be one of their shrewdest buys of the summer.