Martinez confident of Champions League challenge after 3-1 win over Fulham
Everton manager Roberto Martinez was exuberant to see his side pick up a crucial win over Fulham. All of the goals at the Craven Cottage came during the second half of the game as the Toffees went on to pick up a 3-1 win over the hosts.
The first half of the game was disappointing according to Martinez’s standards, but his men came back strongly in the second half with Steven Naismith putting the pressure on Fulham’s goalkeeper David Stockdale for the first goal.
Fulham replied with a brilliant equalizer from Ashkan Dejagah, but two more goals from Naismith and Kevin Mirallas helped Everton win the game and pick up three points, which have brought them closer to the fourth-spot on the table.
Martinez’s side is now breathing Arsenal’s neck, four points away, but with a game in hand. Arsenal will be visiting Everton next Sunday, a game that might decide which team will get the edge in the last spot for the last Champions League berth.
Everton have won all of their last five games, but Arsenal can’t say the same. The Gunners have only picked a point from their last two games, which resulted in a 1-1 draw with Manchester City and a 2-2 draw with Swansea City.
Martinez was full of praise for his side’s comeback against Fulham and hoped the Toffees will carry their good form into next week.
“Fulham started better than us,” Martinez said, “They were very energetic and stopped us doing what we wanted to on the ball. The second half was a bit different. The fresh legs of Naismith, Mirallas and [Aiden] McGeady gave us a different spark.
“We were the team who finished stronger than the home side, but even then it was a really open game. We are a team that is prepared to fight and that will give everything to get a positive result.”
Everton did face a setback as they lost the services of young midfielder Ross Barkley to injury. However, his replacement Naismith proved to be the key to victory. Martinez is confident Barkley will return for next week’s crunch game against Arsenal.
The defeat plundered Fulham deeper into the relegation zone. Now at the bottom of the table, they need three points to find their way out of relegation.