Everton boss Ronald Koeman defends players’ reactions after Lyon melee

Everton manager Ronald Koeman says the players were frustrated with the referee's performance during the defeat with Lyon

Everton manager Ronaldo Koeman said he could understand his players’ frustrations after a melee broke out in his side’s Europa League clash with Lyon on Thursday.

Ashley Williams and Everton could now both be sanctioned by UEFA after a fracas instigated by the Welshman saw a fan holding a child appear to aim a punch at a Lyon player.

Toffees skipper Williams’ shove on Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes after the hour mark sparked heated confrontations between several Everton and Lyon players in front of the Howard Kendall Gwladys Street End.

As they moved to the advertising hoardings, a supporter holding a child in one arm appeared to push Lopes in the head and seemed to aim a punch in the direction of the keeper.

Meanwhile, an incensed Williams seemed to raise his hand to Lucas Tousart’s face but only received a yellow card, along with Lyon striker Bertrand Traore, for the incident.

“I think the irritation grows in the game for our players and in my opinion that was the problem by the referee,” Koeman argued.

“The referee was Dutch but he didn’t do anything against the theatre of some of the Lyon players. Fekir in the first half dived 10 times.

“I understand with my players, that comes out of frustration. I don’t know what happened but I can understand it.”

Lyon coach Bruno Genesio, meanwhile, had no complaints about how an earlier fracas was handled by the official.

“I think everyone did their job in that situation,” he said. “We could then get on with the game and thinking about football, which was the main thing.”

Koeman made five changes to his starting line-up, leaving out a number of experienced players, and it was youngster Mason Holgate who naively slid in on Marcal to concede a penalty.

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For the remainder of the first half, Koeman accepted his players looked bereft of confidence.

“(It was) really stupid,” he said of Holgate giving away the spot-kick.

“I think the performance was under the level in the first half, a lot of mistakes, a lot of doubts, players without any confidence.”