Gyfli Sigurdsson scored a simply outrageous goal as Everton drew 1-1 with Hajduk Split to seal a 3-1 aggregate win and progress through to the Europa League group stages.
Everton’s record signing fired home a 50 yard volley at the start of the second half to ease the nerves after a tough opening 45 minutes in Croatia.
The result ensures Everton will be playing in the group stage of the Europa League for the first time since the 2014/15 season.
Everton and their fans went into Croatia today justifiably on edge. The atmosphere in Split, along with the hooliganism of the Torcida had everyone a little nervous.
The Croatian side started the game with the upper hand, repeatedly getting in behind Everton’s defense, only for nobody to be available to finish a chance. Jordan Pickford was fortunate not to be sent off after making a rash tackle in his own area that wasn’t called due to the attacker being offside.
The Blues enjoyed brief spells of success going forward midway through the first frame, punctuated by a superb Sigurdsson volley that went narrowly wide of the Split keeper’s left post.
Pickford, fresh from his call up to the England squad, was then called into action when he dived down low to palm away Hamza Barry’s low effort.
Everton looked to be heading to the break with their lead intact, but Hajduk Split had other ideas.
There looked to be little danger when Josip Radosevic collected the ball 35 yards from goal but the midfielder launched a thunderous effort that took a slight deflection off Leighton Baines before arrowing into the back of the net.
Everton badly needed a goal, but even the most optimistic of Blue couldn’t have imagined what happened next.
16 Seconds into the second half Sigurdsson latched onto a loose ball and launched a fizzing volley from just inside the Split half that looped over Dante Stipica and into the net.
It was a simply stunning strike from Everton’s new record signing and one that changed the outlook of the tie.
Hajduk, suddenly needing three goals to progress, looked visibly stunned and struggled to immediately work their way back into the game.
The lively Radosevic fired another effort from long range, but the shot went wide of the post.
Split then had a glorious chance to haul themselves back into the game when Ante Erceg was fouled by Ashley Williams in the area.
Ahmed Said stepped up to take the spot kick but Pickford dived full stretch to his right to pull off a stunning save.
Wayne Rooney had a late opportunity to put a gloss on the result but his shot was well saved by Stipica.
In truth Everton had already done enough to progress. With the only remaining hope that the travelling Toffees made a safe journey home and avoided any off-field trouble.