Everton 4 – 0 AEK Athens

first_imgEverton opened their Europa League Group I account by dismantling outclassed AEK Athens in a game marred by two second-half red cards.The hosts took an early lead through Joseph Yobo’s header and soon added a second as Sylvain Distin poked home.Stephen Pienaar rifled in a stunning third shortly before the break, with Jo turning sharply to add a late fourth.AEK had Carlos Araujo red carded after 54 minutes and Louis Saha followed late on for raising his hand to a defender.Saha barely made contact with the face of AEK defender Juanfran, who made a meal of the incident, in stoppage time but it was right in front of the referee and he had no hesitation in dismissing the French striker.Araujo, on the other hand, could have had no complaints after he was sent off for kicking out at Distin following a challenge with the French defender. Everton have a had a sticky start to the Premier League season but from the opening whistle they were a cut above their Greek visitors.Jack Rodwell and Tim Cahill took control of midfield and with Pienaar looking lively down the right and Jo causing a makeshift AEK defence plenty of problems, it was only a matter of time before the goals started flowing.Just before kick-off Everton confirmed they had signed Australia captain Lucas Neill and the right-back was in the stands to see two of his new defensive comrades get on the scoresheet inside the opening 17 minutes.The opener came after 10 minutes from a corner earned when AEK keeper Sebastian Saja could only turn a Pienaar drive round the post.Everton boss David Moyes had given Diniyar Bilyaletdinov his first start and the Russian took no time to illustrate his quality, delivering a fine corner to the far post where Yobo, captain for the day, thundered his header home. The Greeks’ cause was not helped when they lost Gerlando Alves to injury and they soon found themselves two goals behind.AEK survived one corner but the assistant positioned behind the goalline – a new initiative being trialled in the Europa League – correctly indicated Everton should be awarded another.When the ball was swung into the six yard box the visitors’ defence was once again thrown into disarray and although Marouane Fellaini’s intial effort was blocked, Distin was lurking beyond the far post and reacted first to score.Stung by the two goals AEK tried to hit back but they were restricted to long-range strikes from Pantelis Kafes and Tam Nsaliwa, a Malawai-born Canadian international who has just received a German passport, which both fizzed over.Jo twice threatened with headers as Everton went back on the attack and, after Grigoris Makos shot into Howard’s arms from distance, the hosts added a third. When Pienaar picked the ball up 30 yards out there looked to be little on but the Athens defence failed to close him down and the South Africa midfielder drilled a low shot into the corner past the despairing dive of Saja.That prompted the AEK travelling fans to turn their backs on the game and amuse themselves with a bout of scarf waving, and their day got no better after the break.Everton took off Tim Cahill, who had picked up a yellow card, and Bilyaletdinov, with Leon Osman and Yakubu respectively coming on.It made little difference to the flow of the game as the hosts continued to enjoy a stranglehold on possession and any remote chance the visitors had of getting back into the contest was ended when Araujo was red carded 10 minutes into the half for kicking out at Distin.With the result already in the bag Everton struggled to produce the penetration of the first half, although Rodwell and Osman both went close. Ismael Blanco shot wide when AEK mounted their only real attack of the half before Saha, on for Pineaar, turned a Leighton Baines cross over the bar.The hosts finally got their fourth goal on 82 minutes when Jo spun sharply and rifled home from 12 yards to confirm Everton’s superiority.A pleasing night for the hosts had some of the shine taken off it when Saha received his marching orders in stoppage time, but they will still have been pleased to have started their European campaign in convincing style.Source: BBClast_img read more