Flying full-backs are key for the Blues
When Seamus Coleman peeled away to celebrate his goal on the stroke of half-time, he knew straight away who to thank.
Everton’s right-back made a beeline for Everton’s left-back. Leighton Baines had stood the ball up to the back post for Coleman to nod home and put Everton firmly in charge against Wolfsburg.
How many other teams would allow their two full-backs into such areas? It wasn’t Baines’ first foray into the penalty area either, the England man had pulled the ball back for Steven Naismith for the first goal and Coleman was at it constantly on the other side.
Both men give the Blues such a dangerous dimension to their attack, Wolfsburg were busy trying to get to grips with the likes of Kevin Mirallas and Aiden McGeady, only to see Coleman and Baines flying past them.
The fact that both men are so technical on the ball makes them such a threat, Baines’ involvement in the one-touch move for the opener was superb, and Coleman was busy playing clever one-twos on the opposite flank.
Compare how they fared with Ricardo Rodriguez, the highly rated Swiss international playing left-back for Wolfsburg, and it just shows you how good Everton’s flanks truly are.
And with Bryan Oviedo to come back and Luke Garbutt an excellent prospect, there’s going to be no let up for Everton’s opponents any time soon.
Tim Howard is in the form of his life
Football is a funny game. While the rest of the Blues celebrate a brilliant victory, Tim Howard will be frustrated that he was beaten with the last kick of the game after serving up another heroic performance.
Kevin de Bruyne, in particular, must be sick of the sight of him. Time and again he stopped Wolfsburg and one save, from de Bruyne’s low curling effort, was outstanding. He also did well, late on, to force Ivica Olic wide when the Croatian got through on goal.
Wolfsburg had 27 shots tonight, only the last of which finally made it past Tim Howard. pic.twitter.com/N0k5cDHl3E
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 18, 2014
Howard simply saved everything Wolfsburg could throw at him – but ultimately he was powerless to prevent Ricardo Rodriguez’s superb free kick seconds before the referee blew the final whistle.
It was a blow but Howard can be proud of another excellent performance – like a fine wine, the American just keeps on getting better with age.
James McCarthy is a pass master
James McCarthy just keeps on getting better.
And the European stage could be perfect for McCarthy to showcase his growing ability. He was superb here, buzzing around the middle of the park, energetic yet elegant.
The Irish midfielder is a classy performer and his turn and pass to set Baines on his way in the build-up to the opening goal was simply brilliant.
Elsewhere, he dominated the likes of Luis Gustavo in the German’s midfield, keeping the ball simple at times and upping the tempo at will when required.
Later, a tackle on Aaron Hunt drew a standing ovation from all corners of Goodison and stopped the German from pulling a goal back. That was just minutes before the end, but McCarthy showed no signs of slowing down.
This wasn’t exactly a breakout performance for the Scot, Evertonians have long known about his ability, but if he keeps on performing like this in the Europa League, the rest of Europe might just have to sit up and take notice.
Kevin Mirallas can turn it up a notch
Two Belgian internationals faced off against each other tonight. Mirallas in the blue corner, de Bruyne in the green and white.
Mirallas came out on top.
When he’s on his game, Mirallas is a joy to behold. He’s quick, aggressive, direct and skillful to boot.
He worked hard tonight, covering up and down the left hand touch-line and linking well with Leighton Baines. He pressured the visiting players when they were on the ball and terrorised them when it was in his possession.
Mirallas was directly involved in the second goal, running at the Wolfsburg defence and testing Diego Benaglio with a fierce drive moments before Baines set up Coleman.
He never let up that pace either, running directly at the German backline throughout and getting his reward when, with less than 10 minutes remaining, the Eto’o found him with an excellent pass.
The finish was never in doubt.
It was the cherry on top of a fantastic performance for Mirallas who left his international team-mate in the shade.
Everton ‘s style serves them well in Europe
Under David Moyes Everton often struggled on the European stage, they were outclassed by some of Europe’s top performers.
But Roberto Martinez’s men were the ones that showed their class tonight and, make no mistake, Wolfsburg are no mugs.
The German outfit finished fifth in a competitive Bundesliga last term – just a point from the top four.
At times tonight, they dominated proceedings and Everton can thank their goalkeeper for keeping them at bay in the second half.
That said, the Blues more than deserved their win. The style of play Martinez has them playing is perfect for Europe. The Toffees remain patient on the ball, passing it smartly and decisively, then, without warning they up the tempo and tear through the opposition. And when they did, Wolfsburg simply couldn’t handle it.
With McGeady and Mirallas flying down the wings, Lukaku at his bullish best, Naismith intelligent and with the full-backs overlapping Wolfsburg were overwhelmed.
Lille, Krasnodar, you’ve been warned. Roberto’s men mean business.
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