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

by Hamish Dufton @efchamishdufton

Roberto Martinez saluted the efforts of his players as they overcame Norwich City at Goodison Park.

In what the Blues boss called a ‘tricky game’, goals from Gareth Barry and Kevin Mirallas saw off the Canaries, and helped the Toffees reclaim a place in the top four.

Speaking to evertontv, Martinez said: “I’m very pleased. I think it was a very tricky game for us because obviously for any home game you feel like you have to concentrate on what you do on the ball and in your attacking play.

“I thought we were very good with that and some of the aspects of our play were magnificent.

“Of course with those types of games, you can leave yourself exposed and you can drop your level of concentration defensively but today we were at our best in that department. Together we got a clean sheet out of that and that was very satisfying.

“We made six changes from the FA Cup game for one reason or another and to see a team so close to together, showing a great understanding of what’s needed, was very, very pleasing.”

Two of those six changes were the return to the starting line-up of influential defensive duo Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines, and Martinez was delighted to once again be able to call on the pair.

“That was very important,” he added. “Obviously we had the bad news of Ross Barkley having to miss the game, and Antolin Alcaraz not being able to play so many games having just come back, so to get Phil Jagielka back with Leighton Baines as well, that gives you an incredible strength.

“Then we had Tim Howard back in goal, and he showed an incredible sharpness in his performance.

“We look at every game as a challenge for this football club and each member of the squad is ready to come in and play the way the team expects. That is very satisfying.”

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