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Everton win at Wolfsburg to clinch Group H

VfL Wolfsburg 0-2 Everton FC
Goals from Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas sent Everton into the round of 32 as Group H winners after an entertaining encounter in Germany.

The Everton players celebrate Kevin Mirallas's clinching goal at Wolfsburg
The Everton players celebrate Kevin Mirallas's clinching goal at Wolfsburg ©Getty Images

Ivan Perišić is Wolfsburg's early dangerman, including having strike ruled offside
Everton soak up first-half pressure then score on break via Romelu Lukaku
Blues already through after Krasnodar 1-1 LOSC; Wolfsburg must avoid defeat in Lille to follow
Second-half let-offs for both sides before Kevin Mirallas seals victory on counter
Next games: LOSC v Wolfsburg, Everton v Krasnodar (11 December)

Everton FC soaked up considerable pressure from VfL Wolfsburg before twice catching the German high-fliers with counterattacking goals from Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas to win 2-0 and clinch top spot in UEFA Europa League Group H.

Everton's early warning had come with Ivan Perišić's twin salvo of dangerous cross-shot and threatening free header. The Blues failed to heed it when Kevin De Bruyne fed Perišić, with goalkeeper Tim Howard forced into action. The American made an even smarter stop from Aaron Hunt's strike, soon after Everton's Sylvain Distin had headed a corner against the crossbar.

Dieter Hecking's team had slumped 4-1 on Merseyside on matchday one, but a better pre-game gauge of the gap between the sides was the single point between the hosts and the Group H pacesetters. If a linesman's flag denied Perišić the opener, Phil Jagielka did likewise when blocking De Bruyne's shot. Moment later Everton broke from a corner, touches from Leon Osman and Mirallas sending Lukaku clear to score inside Diego Benaglio's near post.

Both teams had lost just once in their last ten matches, and Wolfsburg were in no mood to accept another reversal. De Bruyne warmed the knees of Howard, then Nicklas Bendtner's header was ruled offside. The Bundesliga's second-placed club had a let-off of their own when Aiden McGeady scooped over after Benaglio's save from Lukaku.

Perišić and Maximilian Arnold each hit the outside of a post and Marcel Schäfer tested Howard, yet the decisive action came at the other end when – on the counterattack – Lukaku played in Mirallas who, with work to do, finished expertly. With that, Roberto Martínez's men confirmed both the victory and pole position, even affording the luxury of a disallowed strike from Ross Barkley.