Phil Jagielka says Everton attacker Ademola Lookman’s sizzling display against Gor Mahia was a product of the 21-year-old’s “fantastic” attitude to his football.
Lookman set the ball rolling on the Blues’ 4-0 victory over their Kenyan opponents when he scored from close range on 16 minutes.
Kieran Dowell added Everton’s second with a precise finish six minutes later and substitute duo Nathan Broadhead and Oumar Niasse both struck late on to ensure Marco Silva’s side secured the SportPesa Trophy in emphatic style.
Captain Jagielka started the match, partnering Colombia international Yerry Mina in the centre of defence, before being replaced with 14 minutes remaining by Under-23 defender Kyle John, who was brought on along with fellow 17-year-old Anthony Gordon.
“Ademola has been on fire since he came back for pre-season and is trying to get himself some game time – and he did himself no harm with his performance tonight,” Jagielka told evertontv.
“And his attitude was fantastic, spot on – he played 85 minutes so it was nearly a full game for him and it is nice to see him out there enjoying his football.
“It was nice for the young lads to come on, too, and for Nathan to get a goal and assist in the few minutes he was on.
“There are a few smiles in the changing room and it was nice for them to have that experience. They have played their parts in the Under-23s but to play with the lads they were alongside tonight would have been special for them and something they can hopefully look forward to doing in the rest of their careers.”
Centre-half pair Jagielka and Mina were joined in Everton’s starting XI by fellow full internationals Morgan Schneiderlin, Cenk Tosun and goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.
Tosun crossed for Lookman’s opener before Dowell seized on a loose ball to stride forward and caress a right-foot finish across goalkeeper Boniface Oluch.
Broadhead came on for Lookman and promptly forced the ball home from a delivery by James McCarthy – on for the final half hour as the midfielder stepped up his recovery from the broken leg he suffered in January.
And Broadhead swiftly turned provider, passing to Niasse, who progressed to the edge of the box before directing a strike into the net via Oluch’s right-hand post to send a vibrant Goodison Park crowd home happy – even the Kenyan contingent who created a din throughout and savoured watching an East African team battling a Premier League outfit in England for the first time.
“It was always going to be difficult to know exactly what to expect from the game,” added Jagielka.
“But everyone out there tonight needed some game time. We played pretty well in patches and there were other aspects we would like to improve.
“But we did a professional job, kept a clean sheet and scored a few goals.
“It must be fantastic for them [Gor Mahia] to come to a top Premier League stadium, and a lot of people turned up and made a lot of noise... the atmosphere was really good.
“When the squad is as big as it is and the lads have not played as much football as they need it is good to get those valuable minutes [in your legs].
“And it is definitely much better than a training session! To get out there at Goodison and play 75 minutes plus was fantastic.”