Martinez: Lukaku loves Everton life

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Published: Friday 20th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Boss Roberto Martinez said Romelu Lukaku had demonstrated he “loves playing for Everton” with his performance in the 4-1 victory at Young Boys.

Lukaku delivered a stand-out individual display as part of what was an impressive team effort by the Toffees in the Europa League last 32 first leg in Switzerland, notching three of their goals to register his first Toffees hat-trick.

The 21-year-old Belgium striker, who Everton paid a club record £28million for last summer to recruit him from Chelsea after having him on loan for the previous season, was quoted last week following a 1-0 loss to his former employers as saying he would like to “eventually arrive at a top club again.”

But Martinez played down that matter after the Young Boys match, saying: “There has been a lot written about that – there was a conversation taken a little bit out of context after the Chelsea game.

“It was clearly someone looking for a headline about if Rom wanted to perform in order to come back to Chelsea, and his answer probably didn’t reflect what he meant.

“It’s never an issue. Rom was delighted to commit himself to Everton.

“He loves playing for Everton, and I think he showed that today.

“A footballer needs to be measured by the way he talks on the pitch. Sometimes a microphone can be put in front of you and people then dissect everything you say and highlight a word or line which is not appropriate.

“It’s not an issue. He’s a special footballer who we love seeing developing, and he’s just enjoying being an important player for Everton.”

Martinez added of Lukaku, who now has 13 goals this season: “He’s the complete striker, but he’s only 21 and people forget about that.

“Our desire and work we put in over the summer was to show we are the perfect place for him to develop.

“We saw today he really makes a difference in front of goal and he’s someone who is going to have a really strong ending to the season.”

Although Everton, 12th in the Barclays Premier League, have struggled for momentum domestically this season, they have flourished in what is their first continental campaign since 2009-10.

That continued to be the case at the Stade de Suisse, despite the fact they were playing on an artificial pitch – they had prepared by training on a similar surface at home – and fell behind early on to Guillaume Hoarau’s curler.

The Toffees stormed back, with two Lukaku efforts either side of a Seamus Coleman finish, as well as some Tim Howard heroics and a goal-line block from James McCarthy, seeing them go in at half time 3-1 up.

Lukaku subsequently completed his treble just before the hour, and Everton soon after had John Stones sent off for pulling back Hoarau, who missed the resulting penalty.

Martinez said: “I was extremely delighted with the reaction, because coming away from home and conceding the first goal, it becomes a big mountain to climb and a real test of character.

“I thought it was incredible the way we took responsibility and got on the ball – some of our attacking play was electric.

“The amount of chances we created was testament to the performance, and remember Young Boys have a fantastic home record (five Europa League victories out of five this season prior to the Everton game). That makes it an even more special result.

“It was a team performance that deserves incredible credit, also because we went down to 10 men.

“John Stones will learn massively from today’s moment. We had to dig deep and defend with 10 men but we still looked like the team with most threat. That says a lot about the tactical awareness the players have developed.

“When you see us play (in Europe this season) it seems we get back to the memories of last season (when Everton finished fifth in the Premier League) – a real enjoyment, bravery and energy in everything we do.”

Both Bryan Oviedo and McCarthy came off injured, but Martinez dismissed the idea that had been down to the pitch.

Young Boys boss Uli Forte claimed Everton’s second and third goals should have been disallowed for offside.

He said: “That was a tough night for us.

“We had a good start, were very dynamic and scored the first goal, but then we lost control of the game.

“We were too passive and then we had the two goals against us which were offside, which made it even harder for us.

“We tried to come back after the break, but the fourth goal was it for us. It was a very unlucky evening, but we have to accept that – that’s football.”

Meanwhile, Young Boys could find themselves in trouble with UEFA after reports and images emerged claiming Stones was pelted by missiles from the crowd after being sent off.

The back page of Friday’s Sun shows stewards using an umbrella to shield the former Barnsley defender as he made his way off the pitch, with the newspaper reporting this was due to objects being hurled in his direction.

Published: Friday 20th February 2015 by The News Editor

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