Martinez backs Everton character despite defeat to Sunderland

Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard receives a red card from referee Lee Probert against Sunderland yesterday
Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard receives a red card from referee Lee Probert against Sunderland yesterday
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ROBERTO Martinez said he felt elated rather than deflated by Everton’s performance against Sunderland yesterday.

And he believes the Blues will emerge a better and stronger side thanks to their lung-bursting, if ultimately unsuccessful, efforts to get something from the game.

“We were reduced to 10 men in the first half, which was, of course, the disappointing thing about the game, and then it becomes a test of character, but it was a test we passed,” said Martinez, who suffered a first home league defeat in charge of the Goodison men.

“We produced one of the strongest performances in the second half that I have seen in a long time and I have learned a lot about how strong my team is, and how strong it is going to be in the second half of the season.

“I think we managed something like 25 shots and 11 corners which, when you consider we were reduced to 10 men, was incredible.

“I thought the second-half performance was terrific.

“To be able to go at Sunderland like that in the second half and test Vito Mannone so much, and get him to perform to the level he had to, was fantastic.

“The players showed great attitude and understanding to implement our strategy.

“The only criticism we can have is that we need to be scoring goals, but I feel we are stronger as a unit after the game than we were before.”

Everton faced a huge battle after keeper Tim Howard was sent off midway through the first half for bringing down Ki Sung-Yueng, who converted the resulting penalty.

The Spaniard had no complaints about the sending off, but he was a little disappointed that Everton did not get the chance to build on a start he thought his team would have improved on.

“Sometimes it takes a bit of time to get rhythm and momentum in the game,” he said.

“Sunderland were well organised and had a good structure, which made it challenging for us, but then we made a bad decision which changed the game completely.

“Both players involved made bad decisions – a poor decision by Tim Howard and then a poor touch by Leon Osman – which is ironic as they are two of our most reliable players.

“The referee was spot on and made the right decision.

“But I couldn’t be prouder of the players second-half.

“We could have got frustrated, which would have been to Sunderland’s advantage, but instead we were disciplined and determined and that gives me great confidence going forward.”

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