Everton took a major step towards the knockout stages of the Europa League as goals from Leon Osman, Phil Jagielka and Steven Naismith saw them claim a comfortable 3-0 victory over Lille at Goodison Park last night.
The Toffees took a deserved lead in the 27th minute when Osman — on the same day it was announced he had agreed a one-year extension to his contract — rifled past Vincent Enyeama.
Jagielka’s header then doubled the advantage three minutes before the interval, before Naismith struck home in the 61st minute.
Everton are top ofGroup H with two more rounds of games to go on eight points, one clear of Wolfsburg — who beat Krasnodar 5-1.
Elsewhere, Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino again spoke of the need for his players to show more defensive resilience after a nervy 2-1 win against Asteras Tripolis.
The north Londoners moved to within a win of the Europa League knockout stages after condemning the Greeks to a first ever home defeat in continental competition.
Up until half-time it had looked like a scoreline similar to the 5-1 win of a fortnight ago was on the cards, with Andros Townsend and Harry Kane turning Spurs’ possession into goals.
However, Pochettino’s side almost undid that good work with an error-riddled second half in which Asteras had 14 efforts of differing quality.
The hosts managed to find the net late on through Jeronimo Barrales, scoring from the spot after a foul which saw Federico Fazio sent off — but Spurs held out.
“We need to improve, we need to work, we need to realise we need to improve in different aspects of the game,” Pochettino said.
Meanwhile, a piece of Brazilian magic denied Celtic early qualification for the group stages as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Astra Giurgiu in a fog-bound stadium in Romania.
Celtic were heading for the last 16 following Stefan Johansen’s brilliant strike 32 minutes.
Stefan Scepovic missed a good chance to double Celtic’s lead and Charlie Mulgrew saw a shot pushed on to the post two minutes before William Amorim equalised in the 79th minute with a stunning curling effort.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved