Everton vs West Bromwich Albion: Roberto Martinez defends Kevin Mirallas over missed penalty


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The Independent Football

The Everton manager, Roberto Martinez, defended Kevin Mirallas’s decision to take and miss the spot-kick against West Bromwich Albion – despite the fact that Leighton Baines is the club’s regular penalty taker.

Despite pleas from team-mates Steven Naismith and Romelu Lukaku Mirallas decided he would take the penalty after West Brom’s Joleon Lescott had handled in the area. Everton, who have won one of their last 13 matches, did not get a better opportunity and drew a game they dominated 0-0.

Speaking on Sky Sports, the former Manchester United defender, Gary Neville, argued that what Mirallas had done was “a despicable decision, the worst thing you can do against team spirit”.

Baines has only missed one penalty for Everton – in the 2-1 defeat by United in October - but had scored from the spot at Sunderland a month later. When asked who would take a penalty should Everton be awarded one in their next game, at Crystal Palace, Martinez said: “Not Kevin”.

“Leighton Baines was quite happy for Kevin to take it,” said Martinez of the penalty. “Kevin took the first in the shoot-out against West Ham in the FA Cup and he was confident he would score. It was an unfortunate penalty that missed the target. It would not have been a big issue had it hit the back of the net. But for me, Leighton Baines is the number-one penalty-taker.”

Martinez denied that his decision to substitute the Belgian immediately afterwards was because he was livid at what Mirallas had done, saying he had picked up a hamstring injury in the two minutes between missing the spot kick and half time.

The other decision that sparked fury at Goodison Park was the substitution of Muhamed Besic, who had played as well as anyone on the home side. “Muhamed had a foot injury and asked to come off. I know he sprinted off and that looked unfortunate but he was keen for Arouna Kone to come on as quickly as possible,” said Martinez.

“I agree that our missing the penalty did affect our confidence. Had we played this game 10 times, it would have been nine wins for us and a draw for West Brom. But I can understand the frustration.”