Sunday 25 August 2019

Roberto Martinez praises Everton striker Romelu Lukaku after landmark goal

Romelu Lukaku has scored six times in Everton's last five matches
Romelu Lukaku has scored six times in Everton's last five matches

Everton boss Roberto Martinez has no doubt Romelu Lukaku belongs among the esteemed group the striker joined with his landmark goal in the 4-0 thrashing of Aston Villa.

The first of Lukaku's double at Goodison Park on Saturday made him only the fifth player to reach 50 Premier League goals before turning 23.

The others are Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo.

And Martinez said: "It is an impressive group of elite footballers - and I feel Rom fits into that group extremely well.

"We keep getting a reminder of what a special talent we have.

"He has incredible potential. And I would say the maturity he is showing this season is even more impressive than the record."

The £28million club-record signing has now scored 11 goals in all competitions this term, and Martinez suggested he would not swap the 22-year-old Belgium international for any other frontman in the division at the moment.

Along with Lukaku, other stand-out performers in the demolition of rock-bottom Villa were two 21-year-olds - England midfielder Ross Barkley, also scorer of a brace to take his club tally for 2015-16 to six, and Spanish winger Gerard Deulofeu, who was involved in three of the four goals.

The trio had helped Everton thump Sunderland 6-2 in the previous home outing, and Martinez admits he is hugely excited about his young team.

"It is a group of players with an incredible chemistry," said Martinez, whose side are up to seventh in the table.

"When you see young players at that age performing the way they are consistently like Ross, (21-year-old England defender) John Stones, Romelu, Gerry - very young footballers with the world at their feet - it is very exciting."

The likes of Lukaku and Stones have been linked with some of Europe's biggest clubs, but Martinez has insisted his top players will not be leaving in January.

And he said when asked about the pressure to keep hold of Everton's stars: "That is what you want - the problem is when you have players that nobody wants."

Saturday's match, Villa's second under new boss Remi Garde, was a hugely concerning spectacle for the Frenchman, whose basement boys have just five points and are five adrift of safety.

As their winless run in the league stretched to 12 games with a 10th defeat in that sequence, Villa barely threatened going forward and were poor defensively.

They were 3-0 down by half-time, and Garde said: "It was a very tough game, especially the first half.

"Until we conceded the first goal (in the 17th minute) we defended quite well and then we didn't do well until half-time. When you are 3-0 down at half-time the game is over.

"In the second half we did much better, with more winning challenges - but in the first 45 minutes we were not strong enough on the pitch."

PA Media

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