Everton look to seal their place in the last 8 as they defend their 2-1 lead going into tonight’s game at the Olympic Sports Complex in Ukraine.
Everton are the only English team remaining in European competition, increasing the pressure that is already on Roberto Martinez’s side who have struggled domestically but performed well in this competition. A good run in the cup would alleviate pressure in what has been a dismal domestic campaign for the Merseyside club, but they will feel confident going into tonight’s fixture as they are unbeaten away from home in the competition.
Dynamo Kiev are top of the Ukrainian league and unbeaten at home, and their performance in front of their fans has been impressive in the competition having won their last 4 games by at least 2 goals. Dynamo Kiev will also be boosted by the crucial away goal they picked up at Goodison Park, and Everton will have to perform at their best if they are to hold on and advance into the next round.
The first leg saw a slow start from Everton be punished with a volley at the near post from Gusev, and this sluggish opening period could prove costly for Martinez’s men. Conceding seemed to spark Everton to life, as Lukaku went close before he set up Steven Naismith to level the score before the break. Everton continued to knock on the door throughout the second period, and eventually got their reward after Silva handled the ball in the box. Lukaku converted the penalty with 8 minutes remaining, ensuring the Everton had a lead to take with them to the Ukraine.
Despite their domestic worries, Everton will feel confident after convincingly dispatching Newcastle 3-0 on Sunday. They remain only 6 points from the drop zone however, but you would expect Martinez to see advancing in Europa as a way to salvage their season. Dynamo Kiev will also have their tails up following their 5-0 thrashing of Illichivets at the weekend, so it promises to be an excellent evening of football with plenty to play for.
After early exits from every other Premier League team in Europe, the nation will be fully behind Everton tonight as they look to take advantage of their slender lead and have their name in the hat for Friday’s quarter-final draw.
Martinez has a few selection concerns for tonight’s fixture, with Mirallas, Hibbert, Oviedo and Pienaar all out. Aaron Lennon is also unavailable as he is cup-tied. Aiden McGeady and John Stones are in contention however after missing 9 and 2 games respectively.
Yevhan Makarenko will miss out for Dynamo Kiev, whilst Jeremain Lens, Serhiy Sydorchuk and goalkeeper Olexandr Shovkovskiy are all doubtful.