Everton fans and fantasy leaguers will have taken note of the impressive debut performance of Russian winger Diniyar Bilyaletdinov for the Toffees against AEK Athens in the Europa League at the end of last week.
Bilyaletdinov was brought into Goodison Park just before the close of the transfer window, after David Moyes has raised the coffers by shifting Joleon Lescott onto Eastlands. Â£10m was spent on Bilyaletdinov to bring him to Merseyside from Lokomotiv Moscow, and many Evertonians will have wondered whether such a big transfer fee was justified for a player the majority would have never heard of.
Last Thursday, Bilyaletdinov silenced the doubters.
Fully-equipped with a sweet left-peg, Bilyaletdinov, wearing the number seven shirt, took up his position hugging the left hand touchline. Although some of his delivers from open play were slightly overhit, Bilyaletdinov made himself an instant hero by delivering two corner-kicks to set up the opening two goals for Yobo and Distin.
As the half passed Bilyaletdinov appeared to gain more confidence as the winger began to move slightly more infield as he started to try and affect play in the more central areas of the pitch. In doing so, he set up Steven Pineaar for a stunning third goal of the contest.
Bilyaletdinov was withdrawn early in the second half to a standing ovation with Moyes commenting “He came off with a groin strain, which was disappointing because we wanted to give him as much time as possible. But I think he enjoyed it and I think we enjoyed him as well. There are early signs he could be a good player.”
Individual match highlights of Diniyar Bilyaletdinov’s Everton debut can be seen here.