Everton boss Ronald Koeman rued his side’s failure to kill off the tie despite the Toffees boosting their hopes of reaching the Europa League group stages with victory over Hajduk Split.
In a first-half marred by crowd trouble as Hajduk supporters attempted to invade the pitch and threw objects towards opposing fans, goals from centre-half Michael Keane and Idrissa Gueye gave Everton a firm stranglehold on proceedings.
The Merseysiders head into Thursday’s play-off second leg in Croatia knowing a win, draw or single-goal defeat would be sufficient to seal their progression to the Europa League proper. Koeman, however, wanted more incisiveness.
“I was really happy with the first half and unhappy about the second. If you’re two-nil up by half-time, in my opinion we lost a big opportunity to score more goals,” said Koeman.
“We dropped the tempo and gave them belief to dominate the game. In some moments we were still dangerous but not like the first-half. That was about us and I’m not happy.”
Everton opened scoring on the half-hour mark as full-back Leighton Baines made his way into the penalty area and provided the ammunition for Keane to head home powerfully at the far post.
Play was suspended for the best part of five minutes moments later as Hadjuk fans surged towards the pitch. Once play had restarted, the Toffees doubled their advantage on the stroke of half-time as midfielder Gueye fired past visiting goalkeeper Dante Stipica after being found by Wayne Rooney following tenacious pressing from Davy Klaassen.