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Wednesday 13 December 2017

McCarthy in fresh injury blow

Everton boss Roberto Martinez felt his side had been "outstanding" at the back and "lethal" going forward, but has lamented a fresh injury to Irish midfielder James McCarthy as they ensured progress to the Europa League knockout rounds as Group H winners with an impressive 2-0 victory at Wolfsburg.

The only negative for Everton, who have taken 11 points from their five group games in what is their first continental campaign in five seasons, was an injury to McCarthy that forced him off in the first half.

Martinez said of McCarthy: "He has had a long-standing problem with his hamstring.

"He felt it out there and we will assess him over the next 24 hours. But it is a worrying sign when it is a problem we've had for the last few weeks, and maybe we need to find the real reason behind it."

The Toffees were guaranteed qualification for the next stage of the competition by half-time even if they went on to lose, with the other match in the pool on Thursday having ended in a 1-1 draw between Krasnodar and Lille. But Everton were already putting in a decent display at that point, going in at the interval 1-0 up after Romelu Lukaku's 43rd-minute counter-attack strike.

And it was another breakaway effort, notched by Kevin Mirallas in the 75th minute, that subsequently wrapped up a fine night's work and secured top spot for Martinez's men with a game to spare.

And Martinez said afterwards of his team: "We had to defend really well, and when we did we defended in numbers.

"We were patient with that and ready to use the counter-attack to good effect.

"On the transition we were lethal and every time we broke we looked really threatening.

"It allowed us to score two goals and we had another disallowed, plus Aiden McGeady also had a good chance.

"I also thought the two centre-halves (Phil Jagielka and Distin) and (goalkeeper) Tim Howard were outstanding."

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