Jan 192015

Everton FC boss Roberto Martinez refused to join the chorus of condemnation for Kevin Mirallas after the Blues forward missed a crucial penalty kick during last night’s goalless draw with West Bromwich Albion.

Mirallas appeared to persuade regular penalty-taker Leighton Baines to hand over the responsibility on the stroke of half-time, but fired wide.

Then he failed to reappear for the second half as Martinez claimed a recurrence of a hamstring injury.

Sky analyst Gary Neville described Mirallas’ actions as a “despicable breach of team spirit,” while co-analyst Jamie Carragher believed the Belgian had acted “selfishly.”

But Blues boss Martinez said: “Kevin took the first penalty in the shoot out against West Ham on Tuesday. Normally Leighton takes the penalties but we have a few players in the squad who are capable of taking them – the issue is that he missed it.


“Kevin has the quality and the personality, he’s an international footballer who is well capable of scoring penalties so it’s not an issue.

“Only the player who takes a penalty can miss it and it became an issue because he didn’t find the back of the net, but Leighton was quite happy to allow him to take it because he felt confident at that moment and there is no big issue now.”

Martinez insisted that Mirallas’ failure to reappear was not a punishment.

“When he gets in at half time and the body temperature changes, he felt his hamstring was starting to give him a bit of a problem,” added the Blues boss.

“He has been carrying a problem in that area. That is why he didn’t start against Manchester City and West Ham. He felt 100 per cent today, just at half-time when your body settles and you sit down he felt that the hamstring was starting to give him a bit of a problem and he wasn’t 100 per cent to start the second half.”

At the time of the award – the fifth successive visit to Goodison Park that referee Michael Oliver has awarded a spot kick to the Blues – Steven Naismith and Romelu Lukaku appeared to be trying to persuade Mirallas to let Leighton Baines continue with his spot-kick duties.

But Martinez denied that there were any issues with team spirit.

“Not really,” he added. “Leighton Baines, if he is the one who wants to take the penalty, he will take it. He is the No. 1 penalty taker but if he feels Kevin is so confident, he has been in great form and scoring important goals.

“Probably the performance against West Ham was his best performance in an Everton shirt, so you need to bear that in mind. If it has been the other way around and Leighton says no and he misses it, the issue would be why Kevin was not allowed take the penalty.

“Remember we are making an issue about a penalty-taker missing a penalty. We are a team that is very very together and I expect a few players to be able to take penalties and be able to convert them. If you play this game 10 times it would be nine wins for us and one draw for West Brom. That is the moment we are in.

“No. It is a key moment in the game because the first goal was going to be important. It affected our confidence a bit but I am not going to make a big issue of it,” he added. “Of course we have one of the finest penalty takers in Leighton Baines but he missed a penalty at Old Trafford.

“The penalty taker is the only one who can miss penalties. I was pleased with the first half performance. We controlled the game completely. Remember West Brom came here with the clear intention of wanting to be frustrating, trying to use the situation of our lack of confidence against us.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez (left) and West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Pulis during the Barclays Premier League match at Goodison Park, Liverpool  

“I thought first half we were patient. We kept pushing to try to get that opening goal but overall we kept West Brom to no shots on target.

“Our defensive display was full of concentration. The only disappointment is we couldn’t show that confidence, that little bit of magic, that little bit of quality and we allowed ourselves to get frustrated. The crowd got frustrated and that helped West Brom a little bit.

“But in those moments you can leave yourselves exposed and concede a goal but we showed real good focus and real good concentration in that respect.

“Everyone will speak about the penalty but you still have another 50 minutes to find a way to score a goal and I don’t think we should rely on a penalty kick to win a game.

“Overall I thought that the second half performance showed a little bit of a lack of confidence which we need to get back quickly into our game.”

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