By Greg Oldfield | Florida Cup
Moise Kean scored an early first-half goal that held up to give Everton a 1-0 win over Pumas at the Florida Cup Wednesday night inside Camping World Stadium. James Rodríguez had a blast denied in the second half and backup keeper Joao Virginia made two sprawling saves late to secure Everton’s second victory in Orlando. With the game winner, Kean was named Man of the Match for his performance in the first forty-five minutes.
Pumas entered the match with most of their starting lineup from the league opening draw with Atlas on Sunday. Leading scorer Juan Ignacio Dinenno started up top with Gabriel Torres behind and newcomer Rogério de Oliverira on the wing. Captain Nicolás Freire anchored the regular back four alongside José Galindo with Alan Mozo and Efraín Valerde on the outside. Rafael Benitez made a few changes from Sunday’s night lineup against Millonarios with goalscorer Demarai Gray starting on the wing opposite Andros Townsend and Alex Iwobi shifting into the middle behind Moise Kean. Michael Keane and Ben Godfrey opened as the center back pairing with Asmir Begović making his second start after earning Man of the Match honors for scoring a penalty then making the game-winning save in the 10-9 shootout win over Millonarios.
Everton came out from the start with instant pressure down the wings. Kean had a good chance in the first minute, taking a cross off his chest that he fired into the body of Pumas keeper Julio González. Another dangerous cross from Lucas Digne was punched away by González minutes later. Townsend and Gray were lively on each side, with the only chance for Pumas coming off the foot of Dinenno, who took a strong shot from distance in the sixteenth minute that forced Begović to push over the bar.
Kean scored the game’s only goal in the nineteenth minute. Gray won the ball off a turnover from Pumas midfielder Eric Lira and slipped a pass behind the Pumas back line. Clear to goal, Kean’s initial shot scurried under Gonzalez and trickled behind, and Kean tucked it into the empty net. In the thirty-third minute, Kean had a clear penalty denied after taking a cross from Séamus Coleman off the volley that was stopped by Freire’s raised arm, but the referee was quick to wave it away.
After applying some high pressure in the final minutes of the half, Pumas created more chances with Dinenno taking another shot from distance that was deflected wide. On the ensuing corner, Freire nearly got on the end of the cross, but his challenge was denied. Iwobi almost added a second at the end of regulation, but he pulled his shot inches wide. Dinenno countered less than a minute later after being fed into the box, but he forced a tight angle shot that Begović was able to handle.
The second half had nine changes for Everton with Joao Virginia, Allan, James, Jonjoe Kenny, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Nathan Broadhead, Anthony Gordon, Mason Holgate, and Jean-Phillipe Gbamin coming on and three changes for Pumas with Leonel López, Julio Barragán, and American Sebástian Saucedo entering the match.
The action picked up with fresh legs as Cristian Battocchio pulled a shot wide six minutes into the second half for Pumas, but the Mexican team were forced to make an early change after Rogerio collided with Allan in a battle of Brazilians, and minutes later Emmanuel Montejano came on as Rogerio limped off. Broadhead had a good look at goal soon after, dribbling around the Pumas defense and around González, but his shot was blocked over the end line. Gordon and Doucoure had several chances in the ensuing minutes with Gordon’s blast pushed away by González and Doucoure’s shot steered wide. James had the best chance to double the lead in the sixty-eighth minute after Gordon cut a ball back across the box. James, with the ball on his left foot, drove it into González.
Pumas carried more of the play in the final twenty minutes, and López came close to scoring the tying goal twice, with low shots from distance pushed out of the corner by Virginia’s bottom hand. Saucedo had good look in the game’s closing minutes but his strike missed the top corner by a few feet, and Everton held on for the win.
Everton will resume preseason against Manchester United August 7th while Pumas continue the Liga MX against Monterrey on July 31st.
EVE: Kean 19’
EVE: Digne 69’
Begović, Coleman, Keane, Godfrey, Digne, Davies, Gomes, Townsend, Iwobi, Gray, Kean
Virginia, Tyrer, Kenny, Gibson, Holgate, Anderson, Allan, Doucoure, Gbamin, James, Broadhead, Gordon, Whitaker
González, Mozo, Galindo, Freire, Velarde, Lira, Battochio, Rodriguez, Oliveira, Torres, Dinenno
Saucedo, Meritão, Álvarez, Paz, Moreno, Garcia, López, Montejano, Garcia, Barragán, Rivas