Southampton 2 Everton 0: Roberto Martinez insists Champions League hopes not over despite costly defeat to Saints
Two own goals put pay to the Toffees and inflicted a serious dent in their push for a top-four finish
Saturday 26 April 2014
Everton boss Roberto Martinez refuses to believe his side's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League are over following a 2-0 defeat at Southampton.
The Toffees could have moved above Arsenal into fourth spot with victory at St Mary's, but they proved the architects of their own downfall as two own goals handed Saints all three points.
First Antolin Alcaraz directed a header past Tim Howard after just 53 seconds, while Seamus Coleman repeated the error just after the half-hour mark.
Martinez's men remain just a point behind the Gunners, who play Newcastle on Monday, but, even with only two games in the season remaining, Martinez is not giving up hope of a top-four finish just yet.
He told BT Sport1: "Not at all, from our point of view it doesn't change at all. We have had eight wins in 10 games, that's a phenomenal return and allows us to go into the next two games trying to get maximum points.
"We are working towards the biggest points tally that we can get and at the end of the season, we will see where that takes us.
"You cannot underestimate the good run that the team has been in. Today was a real setback, but we'll learn from this. We're still a very young group, the amount of changes we had to make made it extra difficult today, but we'll be ready for next Saturday."
Everton's backline was largely makeshift, with first choice centre-halves Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin unavailable, and, while Martinez took heart from the improvements his defence showed after going two goals down, he admitted his team could not respond to the setback.
"I think it's quite clear the two goals we gave away were very, very rare to see in a game. From that point on, we got a affected a little bit. We got a bit frustrated, we weren't our normal selves," the Spaniard added.
"We were unfortunate today in the way we conceded the goals. After that we came a little bit stronger in the second half, but we never had that confident look that we normally have to get that goal that would have been a good opportunity to get back into the game.
"Everything that could have gone wrong defensively, it did, and it was very difficult from that point on."
Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino was delighted after leading the club to their best ever Premier League points tally of 52.
"There were many positives aspects from the win today," said Pochettino, who refused to discuss the futures of highly-rated duo Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw.
"In the overall analysis, we just followed our style; we played in the way we know how to play, it worked for us to play a team that is fighting to get into the Champions League as well.
"I want to thank the players, the medical staff and overall the entire club because we matched our record in the history of the Premier League."
Lallana, who has been linked with a move to Manchester United this summer, also sidestepped questions over his future with Southampton, but was pleased to get the win.
"I just want to concentrate on the last two games of the season and then we'll sit down in the summer and see what happens," he said.
"I just want to enjoy my football, that's when I'm at my happiest - when I'm playing well. Playing in a great youthful team like this, I feel like one of the experienced players nowadays."
Right-back Nathaniel Clyne added: "We just went out there and attacked. We had nothing to lose, we just played our game and we enjoyed it today. We created a lot of chances and we got two goals."
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