Everton are mentally strong, insists manager Martinez

Liverpool, March 12 (IANS) Everton have lost or drawn matches from winning positions several times this season, but manager Roberto Martínez has denied that his players lack the ability to finish off games.

In their last English Premier League (EPL) match against West Ham United, Everton were leading 2-0. But centre forward Romelu Lukaku missed a penalty which triggered an Everton collapse as West Ham scored thrice in 12 minutes to win 3-2.

“It would not have happened like that if we hadn’t missed a penalty. And we had been playing with 10 men for most of the game. If we had won the game we would have had an incredible boost, being a man down for so long it would have been a great achievement but the penalty affected the whole environment,” Martínez told the local media here on Friday evening.

“It is not normal for a team that has conceded two goals in six games to give away three in 12 minutes. We don’t react badly to conceding goals. We have lost a couple of two-goal leads this season but we have learned from that. In normal circumstances we can handle opponents pulling a goal back but against West Ham it was not normal circumstances. It was completely different.”

With 38 points from 28 matches, Everton’s chances of a top-four finish in the EPL are not very bright. Martínez is now targeting some positive results in the FA Cup to liven up the season.

“The fact we have lost eight matches in the league is obviously not good enough but this is a chance to put some of that right. We have created negative momentum for ourselves at home, where things have gone against us in a way that has not happened in our away games. We have to stop that. This is a one-off game and it could be an important one,” the 42-year-old Spaniard said.

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