Everton have played the last of their pre-season friendlies in preparation for the new campaign starting next weekend, beating Dynamo Kyiv 3-0 at Goodison Park in a game to raise money for the relief effort for Ukraine. An early goal from Dominic Calvert-Lewin was followed by a brace from substitute and second-half starter Dwight McNeil to close the scoring.
Speaking after the match, coach Frank Lampard was pleased with the performance and the result against Dynamo reserves who had just played a Champions League qualifier a few days before.
“I thought it was a very good evening. It was a great game – and for the reasons we played it, everyone really respected its purpose. It was good for us, it was a very good start and we scored early with good football.
“We wanted to get off to a good start. Sometimes you have to put your own energy into these pre-season games. It was busy today which was great for us, but we also needed to inject our own energy and we did that with our game. We were determined with our passes, playing longer balls to get on the pitch, staying on the ball, creating early chances, then the goal came. It was a good start.
“They’re a good technical team and they came into it a bit at different times, but what we wanted from the game was more fitness, the Goodison feeling and working on some combinations with the way we want to play, because pre-season seems to be over for everyone.
“There are still a lot of things to improve but there were good things to see.”
There was a good turnout for a pre-season Friday night, and although the mood was sometimes somber given the circumstances, the crowd got what it paid for.
“Having over 30,000 people inside Goodison was brilliant. I have my two oldest daughters here tonight and they didn’t get a chance to come at the end of last season because it was too much. tense – I told them to stay home! They were there and they couldn’t believe it.
“I had spoken to them about the atmosphere and even this evening, although friendly, it feels. You feel what this club means to the fans. Gamers certainly appreciate that.
“Our end of the bargain is to show them on the pitch how they feel – we have the passion, we play to win, we fight for the team and we always do the basics. It has to be something that is a very clear identity for us this year – that we are all together, fighting in the same direction.
The Toffees’ first signing of the summer, James Tarkowski, has been very good so far, showing his impressive passing ability to go along with his no-frills defensive style, and the former Burnley player has topped it all off with an assist on the first goal.
“It was great [to see Tarkowski get an assist]. Sometimes you have to make those passes. There has to be balance in your game when trying to move the ball and there are times when you have to be prepared to try and play behind the opponent. Tarky played a great ball and I thought it was a really, really smart finish from Dom to head it like that. It’s a difficult skill and he executed it very well.
“It didn’t surprise me, but it’s great to see [Tarkowski’s range of passing]. He’s a really clean ball striker. I’ve known him since he was at Brentford, when he was first on my radar as a player. I admired him. I admired his way of defending, his way of playing and I’ve seen him up close now – he’s a great personality. And his range of passing from deep areas is important to us. You have to be good on the ball these days to help build – shorter passes, longer passes – and he has both.
“His personality is also important, because you are as good as your dressing room at times. We saw a real spirit towards the end of last season but to start again now, it has to be there from the start of this season. You need leaders, you need players who can speak up and influence others, be strong, be good in tough times – and he’s definitely one of them.
McNeil was only unveiled as an Everton player the day before the match, but that didn’t stop him from entering the game and making an instant impact with his willingness to receive the ball and face his opponent.
“I’m really happy for him because there’s pressure coming in and everything went really fast for him. To play at Goodison, to arrive and impact the game the way he has – he has shown the qualities we brought him here for.
“I’m a big believer in him. It’s a new start at a new club for him and if he continues like this, the fans will love him!”
With the pre-season schedule completed, the Toffees are now preparing for the first game of the Premier League schedule next Saturday at Goodison Park against Chelsea, which will pose a much tougher challenge.
“Chelsea will be a completely different animal because they’re a top team and you know what you have to do against them because of their style and their quality. With their level, defensively, we’ll be tested more than we know. have been tonight.
“There are some things we can tighten up with our press and our defense in the block. We made a few mistakes today which is good to see before Chelsea as we can correct and try to be ready for the challenge.
“It’s our first game, a game against the best opposition, so there will be a good rest for the guys now for about a day and then we will really work for this game.”