Everton kicked off their pre-season campaign in style on Saturday, recording an emphatic 22-0 victory over Austrian outfit Irdning.
In what was Marco Silva’s first game in charge, the Toffees netted half of their Premier League goals tally from last season in 90 remarkable minutes.
Kevin Mirallas scored five goals in the rout, Cenk Tosun netted four, as did Oumar Niasse. Ademola Lookman scored a hat-trick, Nikola Vlasic chipped in with a brace, while Michael Keane, Mason Holgate and Leighton Baines also got themselves on the scoresheet.
There was also a contender for own goal of the year - which you can view at the bottom of THIS article - as well as one of the most bizarre goals you’re likely to see in 2018.
You’ve probably seen the footage by now: Vlasic scored Everton’s 20th goal of the afternoon after Irdning’s goalkeeper David Gabriel stepped aside and appeared to just give up.
The footage quickly spread across social media, racking up thousands of retweets and shares.
Although he’d just conceded 19 goals, the sight of him stepping aside and allowing Vlasic to score looked completely unprofessional.
Irdning release statement about their goalkeeper
Four days on from the match and Irdning have now released the following statement about *that* goal and their keeper.
“First of all, we would like to thank Everton FC once again for holding a friendly against us as part of our 60th anniversary,” the statement on the club’s website reads. “The additional income from such a match is almost vital for a small club like us.
“As part of an IFCS training camp, Everton spent a week in our beautiful Irdning, preparing for their upcoming season in the Premier League. Shortly before leaving we had the chance to hold a match against the pros. The result of 22: 0 was fully justified and was also communicated in the various media accordingly.
“It's hard to believe how fast news spreads on the internet today. As a small club you are quickly overwhelmed with such a situation. Nevertheless, it is important for us that we put the widespread Fake News right.
“The Everton professional Nicola Vlasic scored a very strange goal towards the end of the match. He ran all alone on our goalkeeper Wolfgang Zelzer and could easily score the goal, as our goalkeeper turned away (as if he would litarally gave up at the score of 19: 0). At first the situation looked very strange indeed. For the 293 visitors in the stadium it was totally clear what happened.
“Vlasic supposed to be offside and the assistant raised his flag. Our goalkeeper then turned away and waited for the whistle. However, this was missing because the main referee assessed the situation differently and overruled his assistant.
"Of course, if you look at the widely spread video, we understand the comments and the anger of some people. Our goalkeeper Wolfgang Zelzer is a very fair sportsman and would never give up a ball during the match.
“We are aware that only a few users will read this statement. But we would be happy about some likes and shares.
“In the last few hours we’ve also received countless messages from international players. Thank you for your interest in our club and your willing to join us. We think that you are not aware that we are an amateur club and play in the 5th division in Austrian. We hope that you all will find a good club soon and wish you all the best for your careers.
“We wish Everton FC all the best for the upcoming season in the Premier League and look forward to a rematch next year. ;-)”
So, there you have it. Gabriel didn’t give up at all; he thought Vlasic was offside and subsequently didn’t bother trying to make the save.
It’s still an embarrassing moment for the keeper but at least he didn’t embarrass his club by giving up mid-game.
Irdning should be careful, though, because Everton might take them up on that offer of a rematch.