Early look: Is Traore an adequate Lukaku replacement?

Lacina Traore

The giant Ivorian enjoyed a mixed afternoon at Goodison Park as his side overcame a stern test from Swansea City to book a quarter-final spot.

The loan signing of Lacina Traore from Monaco was as close a physical specimen Roberto Martinez could muster from the January transfer window without sacrificing on ability to fill the void left by fellow rangy striker Romelu Lukaku.

The Belgian has been a key component in an Everton side whose push for a Champions League place has stalled in recent weeks, perhaps mainly owing to the absence of the on-loan Chelsea man due to injury.

And, as such, Martinez plunged into the January transfer window to take on Traore as a deputy who could take on the role of spearhead in the short term and provide Everton with a cutting edge.

It was sorely lacking at Tottenham last week as Steven Naismith and Kevin Mirallas toiled but the performance of Traore in the FA Cup success over Swansea City this weekend hinted at an more than able second-in-command striker for Martinez to call upon.

The Ivorian, standing at a frankly unbelievable 6ft8", was a menace in the early stages, putting himself about in front of the inquisitive Goodison Park faithful, who wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

They would have been delighted, then, to see him open his account as early as the fourth minute into his home debut, latching onto a scuffed Sylvain Distin effort before back-heeling the ball through the legs of a retreating defender on the line to help his side on their way.

Traore was a presence to begin with, winning headers, battering into defenders and shielding the ball well but tired drastically.

Everton were clearly struggling for rhythm and the Swans were on top at the end of the first period, but could not press home their advantage. The Toffees duly made them pay.

But it wasn't down to Traore. There was one particular instance that would make for wincing when he struggled to retain the ball and gifted possession back to the visitors inside his own half which nearly led to a clear goalscoring opening.

Ultimately, he was sacrificed as Martinez went in search of a winner and Steven Naismith, his replacement, was the man he turned to.

Within 12 minutes of his introduction to proceedings, he had announced his influence in the grand manner by rolling home his side's second and winning a penalty with the type of industry Traore had shown but failed to build on.

His only other substantial contribution on a tough baptism of fire to life in England, particularly up against Premier League opponents, was a wasted header when he had time and space to divert goalwards.

Steven Pienaar's deflected effort had struck the upright and fell invitingly, or so it seemed, to the unguarded marksman in the six-yard box but the sort of predatory instincts he was drafted in for eluded him as he contrived to direct a fairly weak header into the hands of a grateful Gerhard Tremmel.

Everton fans will not judge a player on an hour's work, nor should they when he set them on the path to a hard-earned triumph, but there was certainly plenty to work on from the Ivorian's perspective too.

He should not be expected to morph into Lukaku overnight, but given the similar physique they share, Martinez and Goodison will hope his overall output can be as devastating before his loan spell comes to an end.

image: © Ailura

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