Manager Ronald Koeman was livid with his side’s lame performance in the second half as Everton spurned multiple opportunities to settle this tie going into what is promising to be an explosive away leg.
The Toffees were fluid and exciting in the opening stanza, looking the best they have so far this season and would have been good value for a hatful of goals in this game. However, aside from well-taken strikes by Michael Keane and Idrissa Gueye, the Blues were wasteful in front of goal and now leave Hajduk Split with everything to play for in the return leg next Thursday.
| "We played well but we dropped tempo." - @ronaldkoeman offers his verdict on tonight's 2-0 first-leg win. #EFC pic.twitter.com/4BHa7eeA9f— Everton (@Everton) August 17, 2017
Speaking after the game, Koeman was quite unhappy -
"I thought we did very well in the first half - we played with high tempo and made chances to score. The second half was about controlling the game and going for a better result, but we didn't manage to do that and now next week will be difficult.
“In my opinion, we lost the opportunity to score more goals in the second half, because we dropped the tempo. We gave them the belief to dominate the game. We were dangerous in a few moments, but not like in the first half. That was about us - and I’m not happy about the second half.
“It’s always good to have a clean sheet when you’re playing the first leg at home and 2-0 is a good result, but you always like to reach the maximum and that today was more goals.”
When asked if the failure to have that target man upfront led to the drop in intensity, Koeman was adamant his formation was not the issue.
“It’s not about a striker, it’s about the tempo of the game," he said. "In the second half we didn’t play to the maximum.
“We did it to ourselves by dropping the tempo. It’s not about players or strikers; it’s about intensity and how we need to play.
“If you are 2-0 up in a Premier League game then we know it’s three points but this is two games and with a better result it would have been easier. It will be difficult now.
“I will ask the players, it’s not the way I like to play because I think we did really well in the first half, played with a high tempo, we created chances to score and the second half was more about controlling the game and getting a better result than 2-0.”
Gylfi Sigurdsson was introduced to the fans before the game, but Koeman didn’t drop any hints if the player would feature away at Manchester City on Monday.
"We will do some tests to see about Gylfi's physical state. He needs game time, but if it's game time he needs - it will be with the first team.
“I don't know if he'll be involved on Monday, but we will make that decision on Sunday."