Thursday 24 May 2018

Ronald Koeman eyes Europe after Everton maintain fine start to season

Ronald Koeman has guided his side to third place in the league
Ronald Koeman has guided his side to third place in the league

Ronald Koeman has targeted European football at Everton after a dominant second-half performance helped them cruise to a comfortable 3-0 victory over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

Romelu Lukaku scored a hat-trick in 11 second-half minutes to end his 11-match Premier League drought and put Everton on 10 points from the opening four games.

Everton boss Koeman told Sky Sports: "I think we will be one of the teams that will fight for European football.

"I think that is a realistic target and we showed that in the second half but if we play like the the first half then we will be 13th or 14th place. We need to fight for European football and the players showed the level they can be."

Speaking about the match-winner, Koeman always believed his goal drought would come to an end even if he was disappointed with the first 45 minutes from his team.

"The two goals with Belgium gave him a boost and it's unbelievable how good he can be and of course strikers love scoring goals. He showed his quality, he showed the goals tonight, a great performance.

"I was really angry (at half-time), we had good defending but that wasn't the problem, the problem was when we had the ball possession in the midfield and up front, we lost too many balls.

"I know my players, that was the level of the second half, not the level of the first half."

The three-goal hero echoed his manager's words that the first-half performance was not good enough for the visitors.

Lukaku said: "I think we could have done better, especially in the first half.

"Up front we didn't keep the ball and create enough. But the second half we performed way better and it was deserved win."

Speaking about breaking his Premier League goal duck for the season, he added: "It was all about my fitness levels, they weren't as good as I wanted them to be.

"But in the Premier League you have to be focused until the end and I got got good service from Yannick (Bolasie) and Kevin (Mirallas) at the end and managed to finish the chances.

"I think I could have had five really, I need to be more of a serial killer if I want to help the team achieve it's objective. We are in a good position in the league and we have to keep going."

Leighton Baines hailed his Everton team-mate's performance, saying: "I'm delighted for Rom and for us because we know he's got goals in him and his goalscoring record is phenomenal.

"We all know the goals are going to come, he's been a prolific goalscorer throughout his career and he's shown it tonight."

Duncan Watmore sympathised with the Sunderland fans for their second-half performance and urged them to continue their support.

He said: "We've got to go again for the fans because that wasn't good enough in that second half today.

"The goals are frustrating. The manager's annoyed. I'm trying to be positive but we've got to go again

"We need to get the fans behind us and make sure they keep cheering us because it wasn't good enough again today."

Press Association

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