Everton were left to rue another frustrating night in the Europa League this evening as Hector Yuste’s late header ensured that Apollon Limassol fought back from behind in order to secure a late 2-2 draw in Group E at Goodison Park.
Apollon started the game brightly with an industrious game-plan, but they were almost made to pay for some slack defending when Wayne Rooney latched onto a memorable kick from Jordan Pickford, only for the former Manchester United frontman to fumble possession.
The visiting side soon found themselves ahead, however, following some disastrous defending from Ashley Williams as the centre-back carelessly handed possession to Anton Maglica, who then picked out an unmarked Sardinero Corpa inside the box. The frontman’s initial shot was thwarted by Pickford, leaving the 26-year-old to register at the second attempt.
A lacklustre first-half display threatened to derail Everton’s first home showing of the group stages, but they were given a reprieve just minutes after the game’s opener, when Yuste’s poor back-pass allowed Rooney to steal in and prod beyond a stranded Bruno Vale.
The equaliser seemed to spark Everton into action and they might have found themselves ahead going into the break, although Tom Davies saw his standout bending effort somehow palmed away by Vale in the away goal.
Ronald Koeman clearly had words with his charges during the interval and the Toffees returned to the pitch rejuvenated, leaving Gylfi Sigurdsson to come close following Rooney’s drilled ball into the box.
The introduction of youngster Nikola Vlasic provided the hosts with another dimension and he soon made his presence count by handing Everton the lead, as the 19-year-old collected a clever pass from Sigurdsson before slotting coolly beyond Vale to earn his first goal for the club.
The Toffees struggled for pace in the first period, but the entrance of Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the latter stages of the contest caused problems for the visitors, the youngster going close with a bending effort beyond the far post with 15 minutes remaining.
The visitors’ chances of scraping a point seemed to have been dealt a huge blow in the closing stages, when Valentin Roberge was given a straight red for a poor lunge on Calvert-Lewin.
Apollon had not given up just yet, though, as Yuste climbed highest inside the area with two minutes remaining to head beyond Pickford, after Davy Klaassen had given away a careless free kick in a dangerous position.
For all the late drama, Everton were still to be presented with a chance to snatch all three points in the dying embers, but Calvert-Lewin could only head straight at Vale despite having the entire goal to aim at as the contest finished 2-2.