Everton played the last of their pre-season friendlies in preparation for the new campaign starting next weekend, beating Dynamo Kyiv 3-0 at Goodison Park in a game to raise funds for the relief effort for Ukraine. An early goal from Dominic Calvert-Lewin was followed up by a brace by second half substitute and debutant Dwight McNeil to close out the scoring.
Speaking after the game, manager Frank Lampard was pleased with the performance and the result against Dynamo’s reserves who had just played a Champions League qualifier a couple of days before.
“I thought it was a really good evening. It was a great game - and for the reasons we played it, everyone really respected what it was there for. It was good for us, it was a really good start and we got an early goal with good football.
“We wanted to start brightly. Sometimes you have to put your own energy into these pre-season games. There was a big crowd today, which was great for us, but we also needed to inject our own energy and we did with our play. We were purposeful with our passes, playing some longer balls to get up the pitch, staying on the ball, creating some early chances and then the goal came. It was a nice start.
“They are a good technical team and they came into it a little bit at different times, but what we wanted out of the game was more fitness, the feeling of Goodison and working on some combinations with the way we want to play, because pre-season seems to have flown by for everyone.
“There are still a lot of things to improve but there were some good things on show.”
There was a good turnout for a Friday night in the pre-season, and although at times the atmosphere was sombre given the circumstances, the crowd got good value for their money.
“Having more than 30,000 inside Goodison was brilliant. I’ve got my two older daughters here tonight and they didn’t get a chance to come up at the back end of last season because it was too tense - I told them to stay at home! They were here and they couldn’t believe it.
“I’d told them about the atmosphere and even tonight, albeit a friendly, you feel it. You feel what this club means to the fans. The players certainly appreciate that.
“Our side of the bargain is to show them on the pitch how they feel - we have passion, we play to win, we fight for the team and we always do the basics. That has to be something that is a very clear identity of ours this year - that we’re all together, fighting in the same direction.”
The Toffees’ first signing of the summer James Tarkowski has been very good so far, showing off his impressive passing ability to go with his no-nonsense defending style, and the former Burnley player capped it off with an assist on the first goal.
“It was great [to see Tarkowski get an assist]. Sometimes you have to make those passes. There has to be a balance to your play where you try to move the ball and there are times where you have to be ready to try play in behind the opposition. Tarky played a great ball and I thought it was a really, really smart finish from Dom to head it like that. It’s a difficult skill and he executed it really well.
“It didn’t surprise me, but it’s great to see [Tarkowski’s range of passing]. He’s a really clean striker of the ball. I’ve known of him since he was at Brentford, when he was first on my radar as a player. I’ve admired him. I’ve admired the way he defends, the way he plays and I’ve seen it close-hand now - he’s a big personality. And his range of passing from deep areas is important for us. You have to be good on the ball these days to help build - shorter passes, longer passes - and he’s got both.
“His personality is also important, because you are as good as your dressing room at certain times. We saw a real spirit towards the end of last season but to now start again - it has to be there from the start of this season. You need leaders, you need players who can talk and influence others, be strong, be good in difficult moments - and he’s certainly one of those.”
McNeil was unveiled as an Everton player only the day before the game, but that did not prevent him from entering the game and making an instant impact with his willingness to receive the ball and take on his opponent.
“I’m really delighted for him because there is pressure coming in and it’s all happened very quickly for him. To play at Goodison, coming on and impacting the game in the way in which he did - he showed the qualities why we brought him here.
“I’m a big believer in him. It’s a fresh start at a new club for him and if he carries on like that the fans are going to love him!”
With the pre-season schedule complete, now the Toffees prepare for the first game of the Premier League schedule next Saturday at Goodison Park against Chelsea, who will pose a much sterner challenge.
“Chelsea will be a completely different animal because they’re a top team and you know the things you have to do against them because of their style and quality. With the level of them, defensively we’ll be tested more than we were tonight.
“There are some things that we can tighten up with our press and our defending in the block. We made a few mistakes today, which is good to see ahead of Chelsea as we can correct and try to be ready for the challenge.
“It’s our first game, a game against top opposition, so there’ll be a nice bit of rest for the lads now for a day or so, then we’ll really work towards that game.”