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Stoke City (A) Wed 4 Mar 2015, 19:45, Barclays Premier League


Leon Osman's stunning 25-yard strike and Nikica Jelavic's first league goal in 14 matches rightly grabbed the headlines following Everton's victory over Manchester City.
But Jan Mucha's understated performance in goal must also get the adulation it deserves, according to Leighton Baines.
The Slovakian international - making just his second top flight appearance in English football - provided a solid and steady footing on which the Blues built their fourth successive home victory over Roberto Mancini's team.
Deputising again for the injured Tim Howard, Mucha was outstanding, particularly in the second half when he thwarted Carlos Tevez, James Milner and Pablo Zabaleta to preserve a shut out - Everton's first since the middle of January.
"It's never easy coming in when you have been out for such a long time. I'm sure it has been difficult for Jan, but he hasn't shown that," Baines exclusively told evertontv.
"He's done really well for us and he kept us in the game. At 1-0 he made some great saves and on another day they could have equalised.
"He did well coming out, punching balls clear and taking a bit of the pressure off us.
"It was great to get the clean sheet as well. We haven't had as many as we would have liked, so I'm sure Jan will be delighted."

Jan Mucha Sylvain Distin

Prior to Saturday, Baines’ strike against Newcastle at the start of January was a top contender for the Club’s goal of the season award.

However, the full-back’s free-kick at St James’ Park has now been rivalled by Osman’s opener – another thumping long-range shot.

“It was a mis-hit,” joked Baines, before confessing: “It was brilliant.

“For all our pressure we needed a goal. If it hadn't come then they would have started to creep back into the game, but we dominated the first 45 minutes.

“The goal was much-needed and it was a great strike by Ossie.”

Saturday’s victory temporarily elevated Everton to fifth in the Premier League table before Arsenal moved back into the Europa League qualification spot with a 2-0 win at the Liberty Stadium.

Still, the Blues sit within striking distance of the European positions with games against Tottenham and Chelsea, plus the re-arranged fixture at the Emirates, still to play.

“It was important for us to show a response from last week and I think we did that,” continued Baines. “It was what we all needed, the club needed that.
“We wanted to get out of the blocks and really make it known that we were going to give everything we had.

“Obviously it took a bit of time to get over the Wigan game but towards the end of the week we started to focus on the City game and be more positive.

“We wanted to start the game in a positive manner and build on it, which we did.”

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