Everton traveled to Wolfsburg for Match Day 5 of Europa League, with both teams looking to take control of Group H with a win. Wolfsburg looked like the stronger side for much of the game, but the Toffees took over in the second half.
Roberto Martinez's lineup -- with noted absences including Leighton Baines, Ross Barkley, and Seamus Coleman -- gave some of Everton's youngsters a chance to try their hand at European football. Luke Garbutt and Muhamed Besic made their way into the starting 11 alongside veterans like Samuel Eto'o, Tony Hibbert, and Tim Howard.
Wolfsburg wingers Kevin De Bruyne and Ivan Perisic immediately made their presence known, creating chances from both sides. The Blues got a bit lucky when Perisic flicked the ball in the back of the net in the 22nd minute, but the referee's flag went up for offside. Replays showed that the goal should have counted.
James McCarthy had to leave the game in the 30th minute with a hamstring injury, and was replaced by Leon Osman.
Everton were on the back foot for most of the first half, but managed to put themselves up 1-0 before the break. It was Romelu Lukaku who got the ball on a breakaway from a Wolfsburg corner. At first it looked like he would lose the ball, but he managed to shake the defender and curl it past Diego Benaglio and score.
The news came at halftime that Krasnodar and Lille had drawn and that Everton and Wolfsburg would advance from Group H. However, there was still a lot to play for, as winning the group results in a better spot in the draw.
Nicklas Bendtner had another goal disallowed in the 57th minute, but this time the referee made the right decision. Minutes later Aiden McGeady missed an open net on a cross from Lukaku, and it was one he won't soon forget.
The match opened up ten minutes into the second half, but Everton's backline stayed high and forced most of Wolfsburg's chances to be taken from distance. Tim Howard made some good saves on the attacks that managed to get near his goal.
Lukaku had the assist on the second goal for Everton. His perfect pass gave Kevin Mirallas a chance to double the lead, and after making a move to fool Luis Gustavo, the ball was past Benaglio to make it 2-0.
Everton could relax a bit with a two goal lead, though Wolfsburg did manage more chances. The team played well defensively throughout the match, which is a good sign as there are a number of injury concerns there.
With the result Everton win Group H, and the final match of the group stage against Krasnodar won't have an effect on the outcome.