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Stoke City (H) Fri 26 Dec 2014, 15:00, Barclays Premier League

Boss Hails 'Magic' Pienaar

by Adam Clark @efc_adamclark

Everton boss Roberto Martinez hailed the impact of fit-again matchwinner Steven Pienaar after he fired the Blues to victory against Hull.

Pienaar returned from five games out with a muscle problem to secure a 2-1 win just seconds after stepping off the bench at Goodison Park.

The hosts had earlier led through Kevin Mirallas, only to see their advantage cancelled out by Tigers forward Yannick Sagbo.

"We were all delighted that Stevie was able to play today," said Martinez of his 56th-minute substitute. "It's been a frustrating time for everyone because the injury kept him sidelined.

"He seemed desperate to play a part, desperate to be involved and his first touch was a reflection of what he is - someone who can give you that little bit of magic that you sometimes need to win.

"It was pleasing to see him do that and it's great to have him available to help the team again."

Martinez had suggested Saturday's game would come too soon for the 31-year-old South African but offered insight into his decision to include the midfielder late on.

"What was important was the way he worked over the week," said the manager. "He looked sharp in training and has been very clinical in his finishing and I thought that he was ready for the game, not for 90 minutes but to have an impact.

"He was a great option if needed and it's a great for him because of the hard work he has put in behind the scenes. The medical department have been great too because getting him ready means we have got another three points today."

Another substitute Arouna Kone passed up a golden opportunity to make it 3-1 late on but Martinez remained happy with his side's narrow win.

He said: "We have had so many players away on international duty, plus Hull have had a really good start to the season. They are confident and you could see they were full of energy.

"They were pressing us really high up, trying to stop us from playing and we found it very difficult.

"But in those situations it's important that you are professional enough and clever enough to find a way to win."

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