Koeman Hails Stek Heroics

by Mike Taylor

Ronald Koeman hailed the heroic performance of Maarten Stekelenburg after the goalkeeper saved two penalties to help Everton earn a 1-1 draw at Manchester City.

The Holland international first denied Kevin de Bruyne from the spot on the stroke of half-time to ensure parity at the interval.

The Blues then took the lead courtesy of Romelu Lukaku’s sensational solo effort, before Stekelenburg saved from 12 yards again - this time from Sergio Aguero - five minutes later.

The 34-year-old custodian was eventually beaten by substitute Nolito’s header, but then produced another world class save to thwart De Bruyne and ensure the Toffees would leave the Etihad Stadium with a hard-fought point.

“Maybe the goalkeeper played his best game ever,” Koeman said. “We know Maarten is a very good goalkeeper but to save two penalties and two more shots from De Bruyne was fantastic.

“Of course, you need luck to get a good result but I think we got the result today because the fighting spirit of the team was unbelievable. That’s what we needed because they are the best team that I have played against in my managerial career.

“I am pleased with the point. We didn’t deserve more, I know, but football is unpredictable and the key today was the belief and work-rate of the players.

“It was good to show the fighting spirit after just two days of preparation [after the international break]. The intensity of the whole game was unbelievably high. We did not get a second when we were on the ball. I’ve mentioned it several times to our team that we need this because this is football, the highest level of European football.”

Fresh from scoring for Belgium against Bosnia & Herzegovina during the international break, Lukaku netted his sixth domestic goal of the campaign in impressive fashion.

Koeman added: “We know Romelu is one of the best strikers because he is strong, he keeps the ball and, normally, if he gets a chance he scores.

“In the one-v-one situation, how he finished that chance today was world class.”

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