Sport Soccer

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Everton boss Roberto Martinez quick to praise match-winner Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku scored twice and grabbed an assist as Everton came from behind to beat West Brom 3-2
Romelu Lukaku scored twice and grabbed an assist as Everton came from behind to beat West Brom 3-2

Boss Roberto Martinez hailed game-changer Romelu Lukaku after his rescue act inspired Everton's stunning comeback at West Brom.

The 22-year-old scored twice in the second half and set up substitute Arouna Kone to level as the Toffees hit back from 2-0 down to win 3-2.

Saido Berahino and Craig Dawson put the Baggies in charge but Lukaku scored immediately after Dawson's 54th-minute header.

He made it six goals for the season and Martinez reckons Everton can always turn to the Belgium international in their hour of need.

"He has an elite brain and you can see when he puts his mind to it he can achieve anything," he said.

"I always said Rom has got that unique strength of being the man the team needs and in the second half it wasn't a coincidence he was the one who scored the goal straight after.

"When you score two goals and you get an assist it's impressive. When you look at the way West Brom defend they are very good in what they do. He had a real desire to get on the end of the crosses and it made a real difference."

It was the first time Everton had come from 2-0 down to win a top-flight game in 21 years - when they beat Wimbledon 3-2 in May 1994 to stay in the Barclays Premier League.

They had to come back after goals from Berahino and Dawson put the Baggies in control at The Hawthorns and Martinez admitted they were not good enough in the first half.

He said: "We were sluggish and we were sloppy. At half-time we had to reset and refocus.

"I spoke before the game and I knew we were going to score but we knew Tony Pulis' teams are incredibly well organised.

"Our first-half performance wasn't up to the level, every player was off two or three per cent. We were quite loose and quite ordinary."

The Baggies had previously kept 14 clean sheets in 24 top-flight games under Pulis and remain the only side in the Premier League not to concede an away goal.

But defeat left them winless at home in the league this season and Pulis said they were on the wrong side of the decisions.

He felt Kone was offside before his equaliser while the ball struck Lukaku's hand before he bundled it in from close range six minutes from time.

He said: "The second goal is offside, it's marginal but it's offside, they just tell me now Lukaku has handballed it for the third one. They have had a bit of fortune and we haven't but when you are 2-0 up you should see the game out.

"Saido's goal was the only bit of quality in the first half, we got the second one and then we just switched off.

"I don't think we touched the ball, I think we were still celebrating the second goal without concentrating."

Press Association

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