Everton played out a 0-0 draw against Lille in their first Algarve Football Cup game, but fell to a 5-3 defeat on penalties.
In a game that had only a handful of shining moments, the Blues left their shooting boots back at their training camp hotel as their on target efforts were stopped by the woodwork.
The three-team tournament represents a step up in Marco Silva's sides pre-season preparations but regardless of the 'friendly' tag of the games, the Portuguese boss would have certainly wanted to see more from his side.
Blues control first period
Silva stated following the draw away at Bury that decisions about his squad would be made after this weekend trip to Portugal.
His starting line-up reflected that as the eleven was made up of players who are on fringes, possibly leaving on loan and others who could leave permanently.
There was an opportunity for the majority of the starting line-up to grab their chance and for the most part, they did.
The Blues had a goal ruled out after Mo Besic rifled an effort from 30-yards out but saw Mike Maignan make a save. However, Maignan was unable to keep ahold of the powerful effort and spilt the ball into his box.
Unmarked, Davy Klaassen knocked home but was denied by the linesmen flag. Despite protest and a replay showing that the Dutchman was onside, the Blues were still denied.
After 25 minutes, Lille grew into the first-half and began to trouble the Everton backline. Their best chance came as a ranged-effort from Ribiero cannoned off the crossbar.
On the verge of half-time, Everton hit the woodwork themselves.
A 50-yard pass found a breaking Sandro who had beaten the last men in the Lille backline. However, after composing himself with another two touches, the Spaniards curled effort from just inside the 18-yard box nailed the post.
A few moments later, Oumar Niasse should have given the Blues the lead but after capitalizing on poor play from the Lille backline, his shot was stopped by Maignan at full stretch.
Still searching for a goal
The Blues began the second-half where they left off in the first.
Callum Connolly was on the end of a Kevin Mirallas corner at the far post but couldn’t generate enough power on his effort to beat Maignan.
The defender turned midfielder could have opened the scoring for Everton a few minutes later but Niasse’s speculative overhead effort took the chance away from Connolly.
With an hour played, the game became very pre-season like. Countless stray passes and mistimed tackles ensued as neither side looked like creating all that much in attack.
Yet, the rotated Everton side didn’t cave in.
They worked their way forward again as Mirallas had a shout for a penalty denied after his solo run into the box.
The Belgian lost his marker on the left-wing before bursting into the Lille area, however, after cutting the ball back, he went tumbling over leading to a penalty shout.
However, after reviewing replays, the Belgian’s shout was speculative with contact between him and the Lille defender being minimal.
A poor header back to Stekelenburg from Ashley Williams allowed Lille to create a chance with ten minutes to go.
The resulting diagonal ball across the box found an unmarked Zeki Celik charging in at the back post but his volleyed effort ended up being scuffed wide.
All about impressing
In a game when impressing was the key, the midfield pairing of Besic and Connolly certainly did.
The Bosnian looked fit and sharp as he patrolled the centre of the park, allowing his young understudy to dictate tempo and showcase his passing range.
Connolly, who is a more natural defender, has played a part in all three pre-season games in the midfield anchor role. He has impressed in all three games.
The Blues will now get ready to take on FC Porto in 24 hours time before heading back to Merseyside where those difficult personnel decisions that Silva has talked about will begin.