By Simon Jennings
Manager Roberto Martinez was left purring in appreciation after Romelu Lukaku scored his sixth goal in five consecutive Premier League games to rescue a point for Everton against Crystal Palace on Monday night.
Lukaku marked his 100th appearance for Everton by scoring his 50th goal for the club with a trademark header from close range in the 81st minute to level the tie at 1-1 after Scott Dann put the visitors ahead from a corner.
Prior to his goal, the powerful Belgian twice hit the woodwork and tormented Palace’s defence all evening with his pace and trickery.
The point was enough to send Palace into sixth place in the table, ahead of West Ham United and Liverpool on goal difference, with Everton a point adrift of them in ninth spot.
“Rom has been very consistent in the last 12 months. He has scored 27 goals this calendar year and that is quite impressive,” Martinez told the club website (www.evertonfc.com).
“When you look at his overall development in the last 12 months – and we know there is lots more to come at the age of 22 – it makes you realise what a special footballer and special talent we have.
“It is not just talking about potential, I think it is fair to say we are talking about an established goal-scorer, who has got an incredibly big responsibility in our team.
“He can control the moment. It was great to see him at the end of the move (for the goal), but we are disappointed we couldn’t get the three points.”
Martinez bemoaned the lapse in concentration that led to Dann’s goal, but praised his side’s character for the way they harried Palace in search of the equaliser.
“I thought up until the moment we conceded we were fantastic defensively. Crystal Palace are not always good on the eye but they are very effective,” Martinez said.
“They are so good away from home because they get the ball up the pitch very, very quickly with pace and power. I thought we anticipated that and we stopped their threat.
“The corner for the goal is a disappointment and I think it is more (about) concentration than anything else.
“We need to learn from it and get better, but our response, when Palace dropped even deeper, was fantastic.”