Everton's manager Ronald Koeman complains to referee Bas Nijhuis after a brawling Europa League between his side and Lyon.
Everton's manager Ronald Koeman complains to referee Bas Nijhuis after a brawling Europa League between his side and Lyon. Dave Thompson

Fan punches player in Everton Europa loss

LYON beat a struggling Everton 2-1 in a stormy Europa League clash at Goodison Park on Thursday that was overshadowed by a mass brawl in the second half after Everton skipper Ashley Williams pushed visiting goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.

In the ensuing melee, an Everton fan appeared to punch Lopes with one hand while holding a child in the other.

"There was a supporter who punched him. I think it's not normal," said Lyon striker Bertrand Traore who went on to score the winning goal.

"In those moments, we have to help each other, stay as a team, that's what I tried to do."

The supporter also appeared to strike defender Mouctar Diakhaby. Under-pressure Everton boss Ronald Koeman attempted to play down the incident.

"I do not know what happened. It started with Ashley and another defender from Lyon. There were a lot of players implicated," he said.

Lopes later confirmed he had been hit by a fan but played down the incident.

"It was no big deal. It happened and that was it," he said. "For me it seemed to wake up the fans and they seemed to love it.

"I don't think it is part of the English atmosphere to hit an away player, but it was like this. But I am proud that we were strong at 1-1. We won the game despite everything. It was a very proud night for us."

Wales defender Williams was fortunate to avoid a red card before going on to head in his team's equaliser.

"It's what happens, it's football. It is what it is," Williams said.

"It's high emotions. We want to win the game, they want to win the game and stuff happens. That was just one of those times."

Everton coach Ronald Koeman said: "I think the irritation grows in the game for our players and in my opinion that was the problem by the referee.

"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 had no complaints about how the referee handled an earlier fracas.

"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."

Elsewhere, Olivier Giroud scored a fantastic late winner as Arsenal edged to their third straight Europa League win by beating 10-man Red Star Belgrade 1-0 in Serbia.

News Corp Australia

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