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Everton 0-1 Krasnodar - Youthful Toffees side beaten

Much to be learned despite defeat at a soggy Goodison

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

With Everton already through and Roberto Martinez making 10 changes to the side it was never going to be an enthralling night at a windswept Goodison against Krasnodar.

Credit therefore needs to go to the hardy souls who braved the wet conditions to watch a game that had nothing riding on it and never really got going as a result.

There was plenty of intrigue though. We were all keen to see how England U17 captain Ryan Ledson would fare on his debut, while Tyias Browning and Conor McAleny were also given their first senior starts.

There was also the re-emergence of forgotten man Arouna Kone, a man who had become something of a comedy mythical figure during his 14 months out with a serious knee injury.

Bryan Oviedo, Antolin Alcaraz and Steven Pienaar were also given run outs after injuries of their own, while Gareth Barry played knowing he has to sit out Monday's game at QPR through suspension.

Christian Atsu was also handed a start but pulled up with a hamstring injury after just three minutes and had to come off. It was a cruel blow for Atsu who has struggled to make an impact at Goodison since joining on loan from Chelsea in the summer. This may well be the final time we see him in an Everton shirt.

The injury led to a debut for another academy prospect Kieran Dowell, who hails from my home town of Ormskirk (is that relevant? probably not, but its my match report so there).

It was Kone who had the first effort at goal, stinging the palms of Krasnodar goalkeeper Andrei Sinitsyn from 25 yards and forcing a corner.

A few minutes later stand-in captain Pienaar also drew a save from the Kransodar 'keeper as Everton looked to keep up their unbeaten record in the Europa League this season.

It was the Russian side who would take the lead though on the half hour, Ricardo Laborde beating the offside trap and firing past a out-of-position Joel Robles, who had initially come out to try and close the winger down only to hesitate and retreat towards goal.

It was a poor goal to concede and one that raises further question marks about the ability of Robles to push Tim Howard for a first-team place. At a time when Howard's spot in the first-team is also in question, Martinez may soon find himself in the market for two goalkeepers.

Everton improved after the break, with the youngsters looking a lot more composed on the ball than they had been in the opening 45 minutes.

The stand out performer was Luke Garbutt, who had more than a little Leighton Baines about him as he burst down the left wing and put in numerous dangerous crosses. He can also take good corners too, which is a refreshing change from the filth we've seen the first-team deliver in recent weeks.

McAleny often found himself on the ball in dangerous areas but seemed hesitant to play the killer pass. Whether this was through nerves or simply because he hadn't seen the pass I don't know, but there were one or two murmurs from the crowd when he stifled the momentum of the attack. A glimpse into the harsh world of senior professional football for the young forward.

Despite Garbutt's expert deliveries chances were at a premium in the second half, with Kone again drawing a decent stop and flashing a header over, while Dowell also saw a goalbound effort blocked by a Krasnodar defender.

At the other end Marat Izmailov missed a glorious chance to double Krasnodar's lead and bring further cheer to the 14 travelling Russian fans, who had been upgraded to one of the executive suites by Everton as a reward for their travels.

In the end though the game petered out to a soggy 1-0 defeat, but one that means little in the context of the group.

Everton go through as winners with Wolfsburg in second place, Krasnodar finishing in third ahead of Lille after their Goodison win.

The bright spots were definitely the performances of Garbutt and Kone. While Oviedo and Pienaar will benefit from time on the pitch and the likes of Ledson and Dowell will only get better with this experience.

The goalkeeping situation is definitely a concern and one that has to be addressed by Martinez as any injury to Howard and we are in trouble.

It wouldn't be right to end on a negative note though as despite defeat there are plenty of positive to be taken from an impressive return to European comeptition, not least from the rest the first-team have been able to have this week ahead of one of the busiest periods of the season.