Everton's torrid start to the season continued as they crashed to a 2-1 defeat to Lyon in an ill-tempered Europa League clash at Goodison Park.
The defeat means the Toffees are rooted to the bottom of Group E with just one point from three games and manager Ronald Koeman will surely face fresh questions about his future.
Growing frustration on Merseyside was summed up by Ashley Williams sparking a brawl between both sets of players after a reckless shove on Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes, with fans unnecessarily lashing out at visiting players in the ensuing melee.
Williams perhaps ought to have been dismissed, but he incredibly made the most of his reprieve to cancel out Nabil Fekir's early penalty as momentum seemed to have swung the Toffees' way with 20 minutes to play.
But the final word was Lyon's as Bertrand Traore flicked home from close range to leave Everton with just two wins from their last 12 games.
Everton now welcome Arsenal to Goodison Park on Sunday, with Koeman knowing only a win will do to get this side's faltering season back on track.
1 - Everton have picked up just 1 point after 3 Europa League group stage games – the worst start of any English club at this stage. Dire. pic.twitter.com/oyquUUbyZB— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 19, 2017
After making five changes from the weekend draw with Brighton, Everton's hopes for a positive start were blown apart inside five minutes.
Fernando Marcal was unceremoniously hacked down in the box by Mason Holgate and Lyon captain Fekir stepped up to stroke the spot-kick into Jordan Pickford's bottom corner for his eighth goal of the season.
The shell-shocked hosts did not respond in thundering fashion and had to wait until the 21st minute for their first real sight of goal as the recalled Kevin Mirallas drilling a shot wide from outside the area, before Morgan Schneiderlin and Tom Davies went close.
Mirallas and Davies then combined in style just after the half-hour mark as the Belgian ghosted in behind the Lyon backline to meet the youngster's incisive throughball, but Lopes got down well to block the forward's effort from a tight angle.
Davies continued to be in the thick of the action and narrowly avoided scoring a spectacular own goal when he deflected Memphis Depay's free-kick onto the crossbar.
Davy Klaassen was denied a first Everton goal by a smart stop from Lopes, before the visitors twice came close to doubling their advantage. Depay shot meekly at Pickford after being put clear through and Traore whipped a left-foot shot just past the Everton goalkeeper's far post after cutting inside.
Ademola Lookman was introduced at half-time for the ineffective Klaassen and he almost made an immediate impact, hooking a back-post shot straight at Lopes from Dominic Calvert-Lewin's knockdown.
Lyon continued to look threatening on the counter-attack, though, and only a superb last-ditch block by Schneiderlin denied Myziane Maolida what looked like a certain goal after 53 minutes.
Everton were struggling to make any significant inroads as the half wore on and their frustration boiled over in unsavoury fashion just after the hour.
Williams needlessly pushed Lopes over after he had gathered the ball, sparking a mass brawl that even involved some Everton supporters.
The Wales defender somehow escaped with just a yellow card after rucking with several opponents and came back to haunt Lyon just moments later, rising highest to thump home substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson's free-kick.
Another Sigurdsson dead ball crashed against the post shortly after – minutes before Lyon grabbed a decisive winner.
Maxwel Cornet's low ball into the box was impudently flicked towards goal by Traore and beyond Pickford to secure all three points and pile the pressure on Koeman.
KEY OPTA STATS
- Only three sides have progressed past the Europa League group stages after collecting one point in the first three games (Hertha Berlin 2009-10, Dnipro 2014-15 and AZ 2016-17), with Dnipro going all the way to the final in 2014-15.
- Since keeping four successive clean sheets at the start of the season (three Europa League qualifiers and one PL game), Everton have kept just one shutout in their last 12 games – a League Cup third round win against Sunderland (3-0).
- For the first time under Ronald Koeman, the Toffees have failed to win in three successive games at Goodison Park in all competitions (D1 L2). The last time they went on such a run was in January 2016 under Roberto Martinez (four games).
- There were just 223 seconds between Ashley Williams’ yellow card and his goal.
- Nabil Fekir has been directly involved in 12 goals in 12 appearances for Lyon this season (eight goals, four assists).
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