Ademola Lookman struck a brace as a youthful Everton signed off from an underwhelming Europa League campaign with a 3-0 win at Apollon Limassol on Thursday.
Subbed at half-time of his only Premier League start this season, the 20-year-old scored twice inside the opening half hour to end his 20-match scoreless run in all competitions and give the Toffees their first win at the final attempt in Group E.
The visitors clearly had an eye on Sunday's derby against Liverpool in handing starting debuts to young trio Harry Charsley, Fraser Hornby and Morgan Feeney.
Lookman took his opportunity to impress by heading in the opener in the 21st minute, before he unleashed a long-range rocket soon after to effectively sew up third spot ahead of the Cypriot champions.
Kevin Mirallas added late polish to an accomplished three points with a calm one-on-one finish in the 87th minute, ensuring Apollon's first home defeat of the group stage.
In the absence of Sam Allardyce, who handed the reins to assistants Craig Shakespeare and Duncan Ferguson in order to attend a medical appointment, Everton will take all the encouragement they can get from a third straight competitive victory ahead of their visit to Anfield.
20 - Ademola Lookman goal tonight has ended a run of 20 competitive appearances for Everton without scoring, since netting on his debut for the club in January vs Man City. Wait. pic.twitter.com/cOi1nMqmDA— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 7, 2017
The young Blues were prised open inside six minutes as Fotis Papoulis found space on the left, but the winger harmlessly guided his finish over the bar.
Lookman had an even better chance to break the deadlock when he reeled in Davy Klaassen's through pass and stepped inside Joao Pedro, only to dally over his finish and invite the smother from Tasos Kissas.
Charsley's curler next drew an impressive fingertip save from Kissas in a lively start to proceedings.
And the visitors were rewarded for their bright opening as Nikola Vlasic collected a one-two with Kevin Mirallas and dinked a cross to the far post for Lookman to head high into the net.
Lookman only needed a further seven minutes to double his tally in spectacular style, the 20-year-old thumping a sweet strike from distance that burst through Kissas' hands.
26 - Ademola Lookman's second goal for Everton vs Apollon Limassol tonight ended a sequence of 26 passes. Confidence. pic.twitter.com/PVysXjwV8G— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 7, 2017
At the other end, Joel Robles was required to preserve the two-goal cushion with a quickfire trio of saves and the lead remained intact at the break, despite Apollon's appeals for a penalty on the stroke of half-time.
Robles was called on again to parry Allan's firm effort soon after the restart, while Kissas covered his near post to deny Lookman a hat-trick.
Apollon, now winless in 11 group stage matches, shipped a third late on as Mirallas broke clean through and consigned the hosts to their first home defeat in Group E.
Key Opta stats:
- Everton's starting XI in this game (23y 015d) was the youngest by an English club in Europe (excl. qualifiers) since Everton vs BATE Borisov in the Europa League in December 2009 (22y 319d).
- This was the lowest points tally by an English club in a Europa League group stage (four points) – beating the previous worst set by Wigan Athletic in 2013-14 (five points).
- Everton have now won three successive matches in all competitions – the same tally of wins that they recorded in their previous 20 competitive matches combined (W3 D5 L12).
- The Toffees have also kept a clean sheet in each of their last three competitive matches – this after conceding in each of their previous 13 games before this run (32 goals).
|Goffin hopeful of ´fast recovery´ after nasty eye injury|
|Aguero lashes out at fan as tempers flare after Wigan stun Man City|
|Grigg revels in dousing Manchester City´s fire|
|Dzumhur saves four match points to down Kukushkin|
|Wigan Athletic 1 Manchester City 0: Grigg ends Guardiola´s quadruple dream|
|Edinburgh to finish season at Murrayfield|
|Messi the best but don´t forget Suarez, says Chelsea boss Conte|
|I need a great game – Hazard aiming for Messi heights|
|AFC Champions League Review: El-Arabi´s brace seals Al Wahda´s fate|
|Dubai disappointment for Radwanska|
|Patriots knew Butler would be benched, says McCourty|
|Barcelona boss Valverde tells Chelsea: History counts|
|Schmidt departs as Wolfsburg face relegation fight|
|Madrid, Barca & PSG are Champions League favourites, says Heynckes|
|I was at rock bottom – Brook opens up on depression battle|
|Rashid in form as Afghanistan rout sorry Zimbabwe|
|Toulon president charged over Bastareaud comments|
|Biggar, Halfpenny and Faletau all fit as Wales given clean bill of health|
|Hughes availability ´absolutely huge´ for England, says Alphonsi|
|Former football coach Bennell sentenced to 31 years|
|Why didn´t Jimmy Butler play in NBA All-Star Game?|
|Returning Ringrose added to Ireland Six Nations squad|
|Hummels wary of ´top European team´ as Bayern prepare for Besiktas|
|In-form Kvitova withdraws from Dubai|
|WATCH: ´Crazy´ Evra drives to West Ham training in London cab|
|Barca clash a chance for Chelsea ´to do things right´, proclaims Rudiger|
|Lucas claims Tottenham can win Champions League|
|Federer the ´complete player´ with number-one return - Schuettler|
|LeBron relishes one more link-up with Irving|
|Barcelona tie will not decide Conte´s Chelsea future, says Deco|
|Cordner signs bumper deal with Roosters|
|Lewandowski won´t be distracted by Real Madrid rumours|
|Bennett signs on until 2019 with England|
|Man Utd must not underestimate Sevilla - Navas|
|Coleman demolishes 20-year-old 60m world record|
|Red Bull reveal ´special edition´ livery on 2018 car|
|Iniesta will not be made welcome at Stamford Bridge, warns Azpilicueta|
|Ballack sees ´a big difference´ between Bundesliga and Premier League|
|Karmichael Hunt faces no conviction, but will remain sidelined|
|Betis boss would have preferred to face Madrid´s BBC|
|Chelsea v Barcelona: Messi´s blues against the Blues|
|James leaving Madrid was the best thing, says father|
|He´s looking good – Zidane thrilled with Ronaldo|
|It needs to take 30 seconds – Matic wants quicker VAR|
|Team LeBron edges Team Stephen in thrilling All-Star Game|
|McIlroy sees progress despite failing to contend at Riviera|
|Silver supports NBA players speaking out on social issues|
|Mickelson ready for Masters after third straight top-six finish|
|Gattuso: My job is to be the players´ nightmare until season´s end|
|I wasn´t good enough – Guardiola reveals Wigan rejection|
|Dillon reigns supreme with overtime win at Daytona 500|
|Bubba Watson ends drought with third Genesis Open title|
|Brazilian derby between Vitoria and Bahia abandoned after red-card frenzy|
|Anderson ends barren spell with New York Open triumph|
|It was crazy, but I like that - Zidane revels in eight-goal Betis thriller|
|Asensio credits Zidane for Madrid´s thrilling Betis comeback|
|Zidane hopeful over Marcelo hamstring injury|
|Overton replaces injured Plunkett for Blacks Caps ODI series|
|Bonaventura claims Milan can catch Inter|
|Bravo for Claudio! Guardiola to pick keeper at Wembley|
|Mourinho hoping for reinforcements at Sevilla|
|´Quick-healer´ Groves hopeful over shoulder injury|
|Real Madrid become first side to score 6,000 goals in LaLiga|
|Real Betis 3 Real Madrid 5: Asensio at the double in LaLiga classic|
|AC Milan 1 Sampdoria 0: Bonaventura makes it 10 unbeaten for Rossoneri|
|Schurrle excited to finally link up with Reus and Gotze|
|Fit-again Hughes included in England squad|
|New number one Federer revels in ´unbelievable´ week|
|Real Madrid defender Marcelo suffers hamstring injury|
|Costa fumes referees ´want to give me a card´, but Simeone plays down penalty row|