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Everton suffer dismal defeat against Atalanta

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Everton produced a dreadful performance as they lost their Europa League opener against Atalanta in Italy.

The home side dominated from the outset, taking the lead when Everton failed to deal with a corner, with the ball ricocheting off Phil Jagielka’s hip and falling to Andrea Masiello to poke in.

Alejandro Gomez doubled the lead with a stunning curling strike, before Bryan Cristante drove through the Toffees’ defence and placed the ball into the corner as the hosts went into half-time 3-0 up.

It was more of the same from Atalanta in the second half, minus the goals, with Andrea Petagna hitting the woodwork after being set up by former Middlesbrough midfielder Marten de Roon.

French side Lyon were held 1-1 in Cyprus by Apollon Limassol in the other Group E game.

Before the match, manager Ronald Koeman said he was taking the Europa League “very seriously”. He also said Everton were “too nice” as they were beaten 3-0 at home by Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday.

The Dutchman made six changes from that defeat, but his team failed to show the intent and aggression the manager craved, with their performance arguably worse than against Spurs.

Atalanta were clinical, controlled possession and utilised the wings. Everton were continuously on the back foot and gave the ball away far too often, with any move for a counter-attack breaking down. Dominic Calvert-Lewin, leading the line, hardly featured in the game.

They were fortunate to only be three down at the break, Masiello could have had a hat-trick had it not been for two fine saves from Maarten Stekelenburg in the Everton goal. Hans Hateboer also came close with a shot across the goal, with Michael Keane getting an important touch to deny him.

Having invested heavily in the squad this summer, Koeman fielded new signings Gylfi Sigurdsson, Michael Keane, Nikola Vlasic and Wayne Rooney in his starting line-up.

Vlasic, a deadline-day signing from Hajduk Split, was at fault for Gomez’ goal, allowing the Argentine to cut inside after a lazy-looking challenge.

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