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

by Matthew Gamble @efc_mattgamble

Roberto Martinez paid tribute the first-half heroics of Tim Howard at Villa Park after Everton's 2-0 victory.

Leon Osman came off the bench to assist Romelu Lukaku's fifth goal for the Club before the England midfielder sealed victory with a fine strike of his own 10 minutes from time.

But that second-half action only told part of the story, with Howard in fine form in the first 45 minutes.

He first saved a Christian Benteke penalty before producing two excellent one-on-one denials.

Martinez said: "No one deserved that [clean sheet] more than Tim. We've got him to thank for the first 15 minutes.

"Everyone was focusing on trying to score and we didn't control Villa's threat. Without Tim today it would have been a very difficult second half.

"We are very privileged to have a player like him."

Osman's impact as a substitute mirrored last week's win against Hull when fellow midfielder Steven Pienaar fired the winner with his first touch.

Martinez received praise in his post-match press conference for the perfect timing of his changes, but the Everton boss says the impact is purely down to the players.

He added: "I'm really pleased. I said before that we have a really strong squad. All that matters is every player is ready to help whenever they are called upon.

"I told Leon that it was going to be a good opportunity for him in the last 20 minutes with Villa tiring and when he came on it was a masterclass of getting on the ball in the attacking third."

Everton are next in action against Spurs on Sunday, 3 November. Click here to buy online or call 0871 663 1878*, visit the box office, Everton Two or the TicketQuarter.


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