Everton players took to Twitter following their 1-0 Europa League defeat to FC Krasnodar on Thursday night at Goodison Park.
Everton tasted defeat in the Europa League for the first time this season on Thursday night, going down 1-0 to Russian side FC Krasnodar at Goodison Park.
Roberto Martinez made 10 changes to his side with qualification to the last 32 as group winners already secured, with 17-year-old midfielder Ryan Ledson handed his competitive debut in a youthful line-up which also featured Tyias Browning, Luke Garbutt and Conor McAleny.
Forward Kieran Dowell also made his first senior appearance as an early substitute for hamstring injury victim Christian Atsu, while fellow youngsters Chris Long and Gethin Jones came on late in the game.
In addition, striker Arouna Kone played 90 minutes as he ended a 14-month injury absence, often looking like the home side’s most dangerous attacker, while Bryan Oviedo complete his first full match for the Toffees since suffering a serious leg break in an FA Cup clash against Stevenage last January.
Martinez’s makeshift side were undone by a 30th-minute Ricardo Laborde strike in the end, but the Spaniard was still impressed by how they applied themselves after a slow start to the game.
“I must admit, in the first-half they didn’t look themselves,” he told the Liverpool Echo. “They looked a little fearful and they were a little cagey. I know them well having seen them work well in the under-21s and in their own environment. So the first-half was a really, really cagey performance but the second-half was completely different.
“They started to make the right decisions and we saw completely different footballers. At 17-years-old seeing the arrogance Ryan Ledson showed in a Goodison game is very, very pleasing.
“Kieran Dowell is a very, very stylish footballer for such a young age and then there was Conor McAleny, Chris Long and Luke Garbutt was outstanding throughout the game.
“It is a shame we couldn’t get a positive result but we are all very pleased with the second-half reaction of all the young players."
Those involved on the night seemed pleased enough with their performance, too, with Garbutt, Koune, McAleny and Ovideo all taking to Twitter after the game.
Thanks for all the positive comments really appreciate it I thought the lads did well last night always disappointing to lose but the— Luke Garbutt (@luke_garbutt) December 12, 2014
Experience was great and hopefully now we can push on into the new year ! #EFC fans were great as always— Luke Garbutt (@luke_garbutt) December 12, 2014
Après 1an de blessure j'ai fait mon retour officiel ce soir en EUROPALEAGUE et par la grâce de Dieu. Thx god pic.twitter.com/lm7id0Nnyr— ArounaKone (@OfficielArounaK) December 12, 2014
Great experience being out there tonight loved every minute. Disappointing result but a good learning curve for myself and the lads #EFC— Conor McAleny (@CMcAleny) December 11, 2014