Everton manager Ronald Koeman said his team were “afraid to play football” as they conceded a late equaliser against Apollon Limassol in the Europa League.
The Toffees have one point from two games after Hector Yuste’s 88th-minute header – just moments after Valentin Roberge had been sent off for the visitors – earned an unlikely point and ensured the Toffees left the field to boos from some home fans.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin, the player upended for the sending off, should have won the game in injury time, but headed straight at goalkeeper Bruno Vale.
Koeman said: “The feeling is a defeat today, not even a draw. It is really disappointing. We started poorly without any confidence and making a lot of mistakes but we had a good reaction.
“The second half was much better, we controlled the game and had big chances to score a third. It is football and sometimes when you are struggling maybe we are too afraid to play football. That is difficult when your body is not full of confidence.
“I cannot say they are not running or fighting, but they are scared to play forward. A win today makes it different.”
Nikola Vlasic thought he had scored the winning goal as the £10m summer signing from Hajduk Split latched on to Gylfi Sigurdsson’s clever pass and converted a cool finish past Vale – his first for the club.
The game’s opening goals came in the first half courtesy of shocking defensive play from both sides. Wales international Ashley Williams’ wayward clearance was picked off by Anton Maglica, who crossed for Adrian Sardinero to tuck in at the second attempt.
With the home crowd becoming restless because of the team’s pedestrian play, Everton were gifted an equaliser as right-back Yuste passed the ball straight to Wayne Rooney in the six yard box to score into an open net.
Sigurdsson’s hooked shot and free-kick were both kept out by Vale and fellow midfielder Tom Davies had a drive spectacularly saved.
“The challenge is to get the team full of confidence,” added Koeman.
“If you start like this, if you analyse the first goal it is shocking. If you win then maybe it is a good medicine to play with more confidence – but now it will be the same.”
Everton remain bottom of Group E after Lyon’s 1-1 draw against Atalanta.