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Roberto Martinez singles out Tom Cleverley for praise after late goal sinks Toon

Published 26/12/2015

Roberto Martinez singled out match-winner Tom Cleverley, pictured, for praise after victory at Newcastle
Roberto Martinez singled out match-winner Tom Cleverley, pictured, for praise after victory at Newcastle

Everton boss Roberto Martinez praised Tom Cleverley after seeing him snatch a late victory at Newcastle.

The England midfielder struck with the final touch of the game three minutes into injury time to secure a 1-0 win which looked to have eluded the visitors as goalkeeper Rob Elliot turned in a fine individual display.

Martinez was delighted for the former Manchester United trainee, who he believes has been unfairly treated in recent years.

The Spaniard said: "Tom has been given really unfair treatment over the last three years.

"Tom Cleverley, I know him well, but the way he has been performing at our football club, he has been back to himself, back to his very, very best.

"He's an incredible English talent that goes a little bit further than someone who can be a bit of everything. He's outstanding at what he does and for him to get the final touch in the most important moment of the game, he deserves to be part of that."

Cleverley's decisive intervention came just as it looked as though the Magpies' determined rearguard action had earned them a point at St James' Park.

The hosts were on the back foot for much of the game as Elliott denied Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas twice each, as well as Aaron Lennon and defender Ramiro Funes Mori, and Newcastle could have won it themselves as Aleksandar Mitrovic and Georginio Wijnaldum went close.

However, Cleverley looped home a header from the edge of the box to grab the points for the visitors.

The game saw Lukaku's run of scoring in seven successive league fixtures and eight in all competitions come to an end - but Martinez was not particularly disappointed by that.

He said: "No, not at all, I think it's better. There's too much talking. We have never spoken about it and there's too much talking about runs."

For Newcastle coach Steve McClaren, it proved a desperately disappointing evening as the point which would have lifted his side back out of the bottom three following Swansea's victory earlier in the day was wrenched from his grasp.

McClaren said: "I have lost quite a few games in the last minute and cruel endings, but never before have I felt so upset and disappointed for a set of players than I did when I walked into that dressing room.

"They didn't deserve that. They gave everything - in the second half they were magnificent. We stood toe-to-toe with a very good Everton team, and the response from the crowd was terrific, the response from the players...

"We didn't deserve to lose; we have, but that kind of performance, that bodes well for the future.

"Everton would have been disappointed if they had lost, like we are. I didn't think we deserved to lose, I thought a draw was a fair result. But this game is cruel and we have to quickly move on."

Newcastle head for West Brom on Monday knowing they will have to shake off their bitter disappointment if they are to bounce back immediately.

McClaren said: "It's very difficult, just straight away refocus and lift. They have got to recover tonight, come in tomorrow and get prepared for West Brom on Monday.

"It's a big test physically and mentally for the players after that because they gave absolutely everything.

"We talk about crawling off and they did. It was a struggle to get on the bench, they were all underneath."

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