Martinez hails Lukaku consistency

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Published: Friday 27th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Everton boss Roberto Martinez was full of praise for “natural finisher” Romelu Lukaku after the striker notched two more goals against Young Boys as the Toffees sealed their place in the Europa League last 16.

Lukaku went into the round of 32 second leg against the Swiss outfit at Goodison Park having already notched three times in Everton’s 4-1 win over them last Thursday in Bern.

And after the 21-year-old Belgium frontman added a brace to help the Merseysiders to a 3-1 victory on the night and 7-2 triumph in the tie overall, taking his goal tally to eight in his last 10 games and 15 for the season, Martinez said of Lukaku: “His goalscoring record is exceptional.

“What I like is that Rom in the last few games now has been very consistent in the amount of chances he has created.

“Today he scored two, he scored a hat-trick in the first leg, and he didn’t score against Leicester (a 2-2 Barclays Premier League home draw on Sunday) but the number of chances he created showed the level of performances he is putting in. That is what I am pleased with.

“It was a difficult start to the season for him from a physical point of view after the World Cup, but now we have been used to seeing a very consistent Romelu.

“He is a natural finisher. Sometimes you need to remember his age, as he is such a mature goalscorer, with a knack that not many people have at that age.”

Lukaku – who equalised on the night with a 25th-minute penalty after Sekou Sanogo’s opener for the hosts, and then made it 2-1 with a volley on the half-hour mark – was substituted early in the second half, but Martinez played down fears of him being injured.

Asked if there were any fresh fitness worries ahead of Sunday’s league trip to Arsenal, the manager said: “No. Romelu was feeling a little bit tired, but we didn’t have any knocks or concerns.”

Lukaku’s compatriot Kevin Mirallas scored Everton’s third goal in the 42nd minute and the Toffees had a comfortable stroll towards Friday’s last-16 draw from there.

They will be the only British side in it, with Liverpool, Tottenham and Celtic all being eliminated form the competition on Thursday.

And Martinez said: “Being the last British team left is a very satisfying achievement.

“I am surprised because, with the quality of our British teams, you feel we can compete in this competition.

“But it shows it is not easy to play in Europe. It is not easy to adapt to playing away, adapting to different styles. I am just very pleased with the way we adapted.”

Everton have consistently shone in the Europa League this term – in stark contrast to their domestic form.

Fifth last season, they are currently 12th in the Premier League and have won just two of their last 14 top-flight fixtures.

Martinez has no doubt his players need to try to replicate the sort of football they are producing in Europe in domestic games – and insists he is confident their fortunes will improve on that front.

“It is a period that is frustrating and we need to find the answers,” the Spaniard said.

“There are small aspects we need to put right – we need to get our mentality ready and not carry a sense of frustration in the league.

“Tonight we played full of energy, enjoying our football and not having any doubts in how we play.

“In the league we carry the responsibility of wanting to hit the heights we know we can get to.

“It has been small margins, and we haven’t been able to get momentum. But we know we are not far away from reaching real heights in the league again.

“It’s tough and frustrating, but I feel we will get through this period and find the answers internally.”

Young Boys boss Uli Forte believes Everton have every chance of winning the Europa League this season.

Forte said: “They have all the skills they need to go forward.

“They are now in the last 16 and can go further. It depends on their form and the draw, but if they continue with this spirit and efficiency, I think it is possible for them to win this competition.”

Published: Friday 27th February 2015 by The News Editor

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