Everton youngster Ademola Lookman divided fans after putting in a mixed performance in his teamâ€™s 2-0 Europa League qualification first-leg home victory over Hajduk Split last night.
The 19-year-old Toffees winger enjoyed a bright opening to the game, offering verve and a directness with the ball that terrorised the visiting defence.
Lookman’s trickiness and pace provided a useful outlet on the right flank and gave the home side plenty of width in the attacking third.
His partnership with right-back Cuco Martina was particularly pleasing, as the pair combined effectively to create numerous openings and opportunities during the first half.
Lookman faded in the second period, looking tired and became largely anonymous, suggesting that he is far from the finished article. However, his overall performance indicates that given more time, he could grow into a star for the Toffees.
The game was billed as a tough assignment for Everton, who were under pressure to secure a first-leg advantage ahead of a tricky trip to Croatia next week. Their opponents have a fine history of competing in European competition and a wealth of experience but a solid display saw the home side to a relatively comfortable win.
Everton started the game well and were in front on the half hour mark as summer signing Michael Keane capped off an excellent performance by rising highest to nod in a Leighton Baines cross.
That goal was the catalyst for ugly scenes in the stands as Hadjuk fans threw objects at and goaded the home supporters, forcing a stoppage to the game in the 33rd minute.
Upon the matchâ€™s resumption Everton soon gave themselves a two-goal cushion after the exceptional Idrissa Gueye finished off a fine combination between Davy Klaassen and Wayne Rooney.
The Toffees produced a tired looking performance in the second half as the Croatians desperately tried to grab a vital away goal. However, the reliable Jordan Pickford produced a string of fine saves to keep an important clean sheet and a vital two goal lead heading into the second leg next week.
Boss Ronald Koeman will have been happy with the performance of Lookman and his team in the first 45 minutes but will still be keen on bringing in new recruits ahead of a run of tough fixtures.
Everton travel to Manchester City next Monday, fly out to Croatia for the second leg on Thursday and return to play Chelsea at Stamford Bridge next weekend.
The best of Toffeesâ€™ fans reactions on Twitter to Lookmanâ€™s performance can be found below:
Game of two halves for lookman… 8 in the first half 3 in the second
— Colm Hudson â˜˜ï¸ (@IrishEverton) August 17, 2017
— Ian (@Ghedin1878) August 17, 2017
Lookman needs a fair bit of refining but exciting to watch #Everton
— SGC (@LordSGC) August 17, 2017
— Ian (@Ghedin1878) August 17, 2017
Cuco Martina played brilliantly ðŸ‘ him and Lookman down that side gave us genuine width.
— Stephen Leary (@MrEverton1878) August 17, 2017
A great first half. We should've got the third and put it to bed. It won't be as easy over there. Thought Lookman was a bright spark for us.
— Everton Aren't We (@EvertonArentWe) August 17, 2017
Went to the Everton game today with some Everton mates. Was impressed with lookman. Split fans on the other hand are lunatics!
— TheRedTrident (@TheRedTrident) August 17, 2017
Lookman and Gana.. superb.
— Zak Winkley. (@Zak_Everton) August 17, 2017
Thought lookman and Martina looked very good tonight
— Everton FC 1878 (@Efccol) August 17, 2017
Lookman faded as game went on but worked hard defesively and showed some nice touches. Wasn't always on same wavelength as Martina.
— Cuco Martina Fan Club (@EvertonNSNO) August 17, 2017
— Matt (@evertonfc4life) August 17, 2017