LIVERPOOL, United Kingdom, Nov 6 – First half goals from Ademola Lookman and Kieran Dowell and a late second half double from Nathan Broadhead and Oumar Niasse saw hosts Everton FC thrash record Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia 4-0 in a historic friendly match at the Goodison Park on Tuesday night.
The hosts were clearly the better side in a game that saw Gor Mahia boss Dylan Kerr give all his players a chance to show themselves in the once in a lifetime SportPesa Trophy game.
Coming off a weekend game against Brighton and looking on to this weekend’s game against crunch tie against Chelsea FC, head coach Marco Silva had decisions to make.
Most of the Everton first team stars who started the weekend game against Brighton at the same stadium were rested with Silva making sweeping changes, but still managed to put up a strong side.
Colombian defender Yerry Mina who arrived at Goodison from Barcelona in the summer transfer window was handed his maiden start for the senior team having come on as a sub against Brighton.
Skipper Phil Jagielka returned to the starting team and partnered the Colombian at the heart of defense. Red-hot Lookman started out on the wing while French international Morgan Schneiderlin partnered Tom Davies in midfield.
Cenk Tosun, limited in starts in the Premier League due Brazilian striker Richarlison’s form was handed the role to start.
For Gor, Kerr handed Ugandan left back Shafik Batambuze his debut having signed from Singida United in Tanzania while Philemon Otieno was moved into midfield with Karim Nizigiyimana starring up at right back.
-Mustafa for Tuyisenge
In the absence of striker Jacques Tuyisenge who missed out on a visa, Burundian Francis Mustafa was handed the role upfront.
Under the shivering late evening cold at Goodison Park, temperatures going as low as nine degrees Celsius and the sweeping wind not making things easier, it was the hosts who looked comfortable in the early exchanges, passing the ball around with ease.
But it was Gor who had the first sniff at goal after eight minutes when Mustafa was put through by Batambuze before sliding in a low cross into the box, but Samuel Onyango handed a rare start could not connect on target, the ball going wide.
The patient Everton however broke the deadlock after 16 minutes when Lookman tapped into the net from three yards out from Tosun’s low cross off the right after Gor lost the ball in midfield.
It took the side just eight minutes to double their lead, Kieran Dowell hitting the back of the net with a low shot inside the box. Dowell scored Everton’s winner when the two sides clashed in Tanzania last year July.
-Another Gor mistake
The second goal also came off a Gor mistake. From a counter, Joash Onyango did well to tackle Dowell at the edge of the box, but Dominic Calvert-Lewin was quicker to react, taking the ball and feeding Dowell who was already up and on his way.
The striker noticed keeper Boniface Oluoch flat footed and took a low shot that evaded the keeper’s grasp.
Despite going two down, Gor tried to raise their tails and fight for some pride and they had a chance in the 33rd minute when George Odhiambo cut in from the left to the edge of the box but his final shot went way over the bar.
On the other end, Oluoch made a fine save with is finger tips turning behind Calvert-Lewin’s shot from inside the box after he found some shooting space in a forest of legs.
Ten minutes later, a sweeping move saw Lookman win the ball in a dangerous position before feeding Dowell whose eventual shot at goal was well saved by Oluoch.
At the start of the second half, both coaches made changes, Marco Silva pulling out keeper Marteen Stekelenburg for Joao Virginia while Kerr pulled out Onyango and Nizigiyimana for Humphrey Mieno and Bernard Ondiek.
The changes meant Otieno moved to right back while Mieno moved to midfield with Ondiek going out wide.
And Gor had the brightest start to the half with Odhiambo making one of his trademark runs down the left channel finding space, but his eventual cross was met by no one inside the box with a gaping goalmouth.
Two minutes on the turn, Batambuze made a goal-line clearance denying Ademola Lookman who had driven into the box after Kahata had lost the ball, rushing to the byline before his shot skipped past Oluoch.
Gor seemingly came back a better side in the second half with the changes Kerr had made having brought some stability in the team.
They should have halved the deficit after 57 minutes, but Mustafa missed an empty net.
Kahata’s brilliant ball dumped behind the defense saw substitute keeper Virginia rush to punch out off Odhiambo’s path, the ball landing on Mustafa who however couldn’t hit the back of the net with the keeper down.
On the hour mark both coaches made two changes.
Keeper Oluoch and Mustafa made way for Peter Odhiambo and Kevin ‘Ade’ Omondi respectively while CJames McCarthy and Oumar Niasse were introduced for Tosun and Calvert-Lewin respectively by Silva.
Both coaches made further changes with Kerr handing a role for youngster Raphael Asudi on the big stage while Silva also handed youth players Kyle John and Anthony Gordon opportunities to play.
Substitute keeper Odhiambo made a fine save in the 75th minute coming swiftly off his line to deny Niasse who had been sent through by Lookman.
In the final 10 minutes of the game, Kerr handed playing time to all the other players who were on the bench to see off the final wave of the game.
But, with a hugely weakened Gor side, it was the home side who would hit a quick late double, first, academy graduate Nathan Broadhead bumbling the ball into the net from a cross on the right before Senegalese forward Oumar Niasse made it four with a low shot from the edge of the area.