Moyes deflated by Europa exit
Everton manager David Moyes was left stunned as his high-flying side tumbled out of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday.
Holding a 2-1 advantage from the first leg and on the back of a superb victory against Manchester United, they were widely expected to complete the job in Portugal. However Sporting Lisbon shrugged off their indifferent form to progress to the last 16 thanks to second-half goals from Miguel Veloso, Pedro Mendes and substitute Matias Fernandez.
Everton hardly had a shot on target, a surprising statistic considering they went into the match in a good run of form after only two defeats in 13 matches in all competitions. Moyes said: "We never got started. Credit to Sporting, they were the better team tonight and deserved to go through. We felt confident but maybe we made mistakes in the first game which let them in. They took their opportunities.
"I didn't see this result coming. We didn't play to the levels we have in recent weeks. They worked very hard and ran very hard all night. The idea was to go and get a goal. But we found it difficult. We knew the opening 20 minutes would be tough. But we never made anything happen."
Everton suffered another injury setback with centre half Phillipe Senderos limping off in the second half. He was replaced by Phil Jagielka, making his first appearance since April. Moyes said: "We do not think it is too serious regarding Senderos but we are not sure. It was good to have Jagielka back and he will help us towards the end of the season."
Everton still have an outside chance of making the Europa League but Moyes added: "We will do our best. It is a long shot at the moment. But will try to do that again."
Former Rangers midfielder Mendes was thrilled to see his side progress and they will meet Atletico Madrid in the next round. "We needed this win," he said. "We wanted to progress in this competition.
"I think we performed really well in the first leg, we were unlucky with the result. Today we did what the gaffer asked - patience. We knew we couldn't concede or it would be very tough for us. We've been a little unlucky (recently). It's exactly the same in the league here - we've been struggling for results. We needed this performance today."