Baningime among few bright spots in Everton's dismal Europa League exit
Ten-man Everton exited the Europa League with two matches to spare on Thursday, in the process becoming the first English team to win none of their first four group games in the competition. The 3-0 defeat to Lyon abruptly ends a European adventure that never left the departure lounge.
No shots on target in the first half and only one on target in the match told the tale of an attack bereft of ideas and inspiration. At the other end, three goals cheaply conceded underlined how quickly paper-thin Everton resistance breaks once the first opposing goal hits the back of the net. Five successive defeats in all competitions highlight a team spiralling from one crisis to the next.
While caretaker manager David Unsworth has looked to experienced players to try to drag Everton out of the mire, the best support has continued to come, as it has all season, from the team's younger players. The sight of 19-year-old Beni Baningime completing the full 90 minutes while Morgan Schneiderlin departed early after a pointless red card is an apt snapshot of the situation.
Even with six changes to the starting XI and several players forced out of their comfort zone, the manner in which this squad continues to crumble under pressure is alarming. Regardless of the many issues facing Everton and a potential new manager, these players need to discover a backbone.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- Unsworth has backed himself into a corner by prioritising the upcoming home game against Watford at the expense of this Europa League tie. There were several puzzling choices on the night.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jordan Pickford, 5 -- A series of saves earlier in the match kept Everton on level terms, but there were serious question marks about his overly aggressive decisions and positioning at times, especially for the first Lyon goal.
DF Jonjoe Kenny, 5 -- The youngster switched to left-back after the injury to Cuco Martina and looked uncomfortable in an unfamiliar role. He frequently showed heavy touches and misread passes in his direction.
DF Mason Holgate, 5 -- Culpable for the second and third Lyon goals, the problem for the 21-year-old defender is that his brighter moments tended to be in possession rather than when defending.
DF Ashley Williams, 5 -- Statuesque as former Chelsea player Bertrand Traore breezed beyond him to deliver the fatal opening goal, the experienced defender also showed none of the leadership expected alongside such a makeshift defence.
DF Cuco Martina, 5 -- A difficult evening at left-back ended early after a heavy fall and ensuing lengthy stoppage in the first half. Thankfully, the defender received the all clear after the match.
MF Beni Baningime, 7 -- For a young player thrown into a team in such disarray, the midfielder has displayed remarkable composure and continues to visibly grow in confidence with each appearance.
MF Morgan Schneiderlin, 4 -- After a yellow card for dissent earlier on in the match, you could set your watch to the needless and petulant red card picked up in the closing stages. This was another underwhelming display in a season of too many.
MF Idrissa Gueye, 6 -- A missed chance at 0-0 could have put an entirely different slant on the match, although finishing is obviously not one of his strong suits. A surprise choice for the first substitution as his second half performance had begun to improve markedly by then.
MF Aaron Lennon, 5 -- Wingers switching flanks during matches is rarely a good sign and Lennon failed to make a lasting impression on either side of the pitch. Work rate faultless as ever but the 30-year-old was too often a peripheral figure in the final third.
MF Ademola Lookman, 7 -- A bundle of excitement and frustration but also the only Everton player seemingly capable of making something happen and warrants further chances in a team devoid of an attacking spark.
FW Gylfi Sigurdsson, 6 -- Thrust into the centre-forward role, the midfielder offered a passable impression of a striker, albeit with mostly nonexistent support from his teammates. Sigurdsson chased and fought for everything and fired narrowly wide from distance in the second half.
DF Muhamed Besic, 6 -- There were one or two careless passes in dangerous areas, which seem to be a staple of his first-team outings, but the midfielder mostly acquitted himself well in the right-back position.
FW Dominic Calvert-Lewin, 5 -- The young forward struggled to make an impact, lacking support and service throughout his time on the pitch.
MF Nikola Vlasic, N/R -- After his summer move from Hajduk Split, the young winger has now suffered the misfortune of exiting the Europa League twice in one season. Another that has been underused this season.
Luke is ESPN FC's Everton blogger. Follow Luke on Twitter @lukeofarrell.