Boss Happy With Toffees' 'Belief And Commitment'

by Paul McNamara

Ronald Koeman says Everton’s luck will turn if they continue to show the same “belief and commitment” that saw the Blues rescue a 1-1 draw at Brighton on Sunday.

Wayne Rooney levelled from the penalty spot in the final minute of the game after Anthony Knockaert’s late strike for the hosts had seemed set to consign Everton to a second Premier League defeat on the spin.

But after Rooney had nervelessly stroked home, the Toffees surged forward in search of a winner and Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan needed to save from substitute Kevin Mirallas deep into stoppage time to preserve his team’s point.

“I said to the players, ‘if you show this belief and commitment in every game, you will get the luck on your side,’ and that is how we need to continue,” Koeman told evertontv.

“We showed great character from the beginning of the game – and even when we were in difficult situations.

“In the last 15 minutes of the first half we lost a bit of control in the game and even after going 1-0 down… where maybe there was a bit of a lack of confidence and we were perhaps afraid to lose the game… we showed great character to come back.

“With a bit more luck we could have won it – but that was not for today, maybe next week.”

Everton had the upper hand during a first half that was light on chances – but which nevertheless saw Idrissa Gana Gueye bring a superb low save out of Ryan and bend another shot narrowly wide of the target.

The Toffees continued to be the more ambitious team after the restart and felt especially hard done by when referee Michael Oliver did not spot Pascal Gross’s penalty-box tug on Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Brighton had, however, come to life as an attacking force as the game wore on and Jordan Pickford was required to save from substitute Jose Izquierdo’s fizzing, dipping drive.

But when Izquierdo had another shot blocked by Michael Keane, the ball ran to Gross, who centred for Knockaert to convert from close-range.

Everton poured forward in search of an equaliser and it arrived at the death. Seagulls defender Bruno elbowed Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the box and Rooney ignored the boos and whistles echoing around the Amex Stadium to roll the ball into the bottom left corner of goal.

“Taking a penalty, normally, is not a really difficult job but with the time in the game and the situation it was really tough… and Wayne was really calm and cool,” said Koeman.

“If you keep your calmness in this kind of situation… that’s experience and world class.

“At 1-1 it is a different picture. We did not deserve to lose the game today. We played a few moments in the game really well, the start was really good.

“In the second-half we were the better team and had the better chances – and we could have had a penalty at 0-0.

“But it was poor defending for their goal. You need to stay on your feet, but Dominic and Morgan (Schneiderlin) did not.

“We need to defend those situations better, because it was like Burnley’s goal a couple of weeks ago. It was too easy.

"If you see opponents defending and blocking every ball... that is what we need to improve. But, overall, the players showed the attitude we asked for.

“At the end we had chances to win the game and did not deserve to lose, we deserved at least one point.

“It is not enough, we know, but in the situation the team is in, it is a good point.”

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