Leighton Baines says Everton achieved an “emotional” victory over Watford after being inspired by a “special” team talk from boss David Unsworth.
Baines struck the game’s decisive blow, scoring a 90th-minute penalty to complete a thrilling Toffees’ comeback after the visitors, courtesy of goals from Richarlison and Christian Kabasele, led 2-0 with 26 minutes to play.
Oumar Niasse quickly cut the deficit when he strode onto Admeola Lookman’s through ball to score, with Lookman’s fellow substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin heading an equaliser on 74 minutes.
Baines hit the winner after a third substitute, Aaron Lennon, was fouled by Jose Holebas – albeit there was still time for former Blues midfielder Tom Cleverley to miss from the spot after goalkeeper Jordan Pickford’s foul on Richarlison.
The victory sees Everton jump four places to 15th – and within four points of eighth spot – and is rich reward for Unsworth, who, despite injecting discernible pep and energy into his side, had seen them lose each of his previous three games in charge.
“We know we have good players, players that are better than the league table and our performances have been showing,” Baines told evertontv.
“It was good to win... and it was dramatic, so it feels great. But it is nothing to get too carried away with. It is the type of win we should be getting here at Goodison Park and will, hopefully, build momentum.
“It makes it extra special (winning for Unsworth). “He has been top drawer. I have loved the training sessions he has put on and the way he has conducted himself.
“His talk before the game today was special. We would like to have given him more, and achieved better results – but we have got him a win today, which he deserved, at the least.”
Baines’ penalty, drilled beyond Watford’s substitute goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis, represented the 24th time he had scored from the spot for Everton.
It makes him the Club’s most successful penalty taker, one ahead of Unsworth and two-times title winning winger Trevor Steven.
The left-back explained his experience of stepping up at crunch moments proved crucial against Marco Silva's men, even more so with treatment to Watford defender Holebas delaying the kick.
“I had an understanding of the situation I was in,” continued Baines. “I knew where I was going to go with the penalty. I knew I might score and there was a possibility I might not. I stepped up and was happy to see it go in.
“It (the win) is a definite momentum builder… with the manner of it, the emotional rollercoaster. I am sure it was a tough watch.
“There was a wait for our penalty and I am sure people were getting anxious, then they had a penalty. It was really emotional and the type of game that can give us something to build on.”
Unsworth admitted he could think of nobody better than Baines to be stood over a clutch, last-minute penalty – and was delighted to see the 32-year-old grab the Club's spot-kick record all for himself.
"We created opportunities, got it level and if anybody is going to score a penalty in the final minute it is Leighton," said Unsworth.
"I will allow him that one (the record)! I am delighted for him... when he stepped up, you just knew he was going to use that quality in his left foot to stick it in the back of the net.
"I was delighted he did that. I did see it. I was not going to look but I did and I am glad I did."