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Everton showed fight but must finish job at Man City: Roberto Martinez

By Carl Markham

Published 07/01/2016

Shake on it: Everton boss Roberto Martinez shakes hands with Manuel Pellegrini after the first leg clash
Shake on it: Everton boss Roberto Martinez shakes hands with Manuel Pellegrini after the first leg clash

Everton boss Roberto Martinez hailed his side's character after his men secured a 2-1 win over Manchester City in the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final.

Romelu Lukaku's 19th goal of an increasingly impressive season capped a dominant Toffees performance against the three-time League Cup winners - but it came at a cost as the striker limped off with nine minutes to go.

Centre-back Ramiro Funes Mori had given the hosts the lead on the stroke of half-time before substitute Jesus Navas' first goal since September 2014 levelled things up with 14 minutes to go - but that lasted for less than two minutes.

Martinez's unbeaten record at Goodison Park in cup matches extends to nine matches, with seven wins as manager of Everton and previously Wigan.

"Goodison Park was rocking and the character we showed was incredible," said Martinez.

"We had to cope with losing Tom Cleverley and Lukaku got a knock and we finished with 10 men. The reaction after conceding was excellent.

"It means nothing. It is the first leg we had to win and now we prepare for a very interesting second leg.

"The first goal was a terrific delivery from the corner and we reacted quicker to the second ball. The goal was coming, we had a strong period.

"For spells we played with real confidence. The stats are there to back any assessment of Lukaku, from our point of view he has always been the perfect striker for our club. He is a young boy, he wants to be the best in the world."

Everton midfielder Gareth Barry added: "We needed to use our crowd as our advantage and we did that. We have been scoring a lot of goals and we go there knowing we probably need to score a goal. We have to have a positive attitude going there."

Frustrated City boss Manuel Pellegrini pointed to two key refereeing decisions, questioning Lukaku's role in the first goal and Kevin Mirallas' challenge on Navas in the penalty area.

"The first-half, they scored a goal that is quite clearly offside, and in the second-half we should have had a penalty," he fumed.

"(Lukaku) made a movement, participated in the play - it's unbelievable that the referee and linesman didn't think he was offside.

"Then the penalty of Navas - they are two important actions that can change the game. It is a foul inside the box, he touched the leg and it's a clear penalty."

But he remained optimistic, adding: "Losing 2-1 playing away is just 1-0 at home - we can do it."

Martinez dismissed concerns about Funes Mori's strike, though, insisting it was "a clear goal" and added: "The goal was coming at that point, we had a strong period and also had two goals disallowed."

Belfast Telegraph

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