Oumar Niasse has thanked Evertonians for their “amazing” support during the 3-2 win over Watford, while vowing to keep fighting as the Blues bid to climb the Premier League table.
The Senegalese forward's determination was rewarded when he scrambled the ball home to half the Hornets’ deficit in a dramatic contest on Sunday.
Substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin then headed home an equaliser, before Leighton Baines coolly slotted in a winner in stoppage-time.
And Niasse says the home crowd played just as big a role as anyone on the pitch on an evening to remember at Goodison Park as the Blues moved up to 15th in the table, four points off eighth spot.
“Honestly, the atmosphere was amazing,” he told evertontv, after receiving his Man of the Match award. “We needed a lot of support from the fans. It’s a difficult time for everyone. The lads, you see them every day fighting to bring the team back, to bring the confidence back.
“We needed those three points. It’s always important to have that spirit and character - and we had it today.
“I just want to thank everyone for their support. There’s a lot of hard work to do and hopefully our fans can stay with us all the way.”
Niasse played his part in the third goal, too, holding off a challenge before laying the ball off to Tom Davies who in turn found Aaron Lennon - and the Blues winger was too quick for José Holebas inside the penalty area as he was taken down.
Niasse was the first Everton player to run to the ball after referee Graham Scott pointed to the spot but - he insists - only to get the ball to the “big man for the job”, Baines, as quickly as possible.
“It was difficult. It’s a difficult penalty,” added Niasse. “If it was 3-2 or 4-2, I was going to take it because I’m a striker! But at this time, I think a big man like Leighton Baines was the best man for the job!
“I just took the ball because I wanted to give it to him so he could put it in the back of the net and then we could all celebrate afterwards… but I honestly wasn’t thinking of taking it myself!”
Niasse was also pleased to get the three points for temporary boss David Unsworth, with whom he worked for the Under-23s while out of the first-team fold.
“He’s a good man,” said Niasse, when asked about Unsworth. “I am so happy to see him bring the team back. He is someone who loves the Club and you can see, with the Under-23s also, how much he wants to win.
“I am happy and the rest of the lads are happy to get that win for him today. We don’t know what’s going to happen but we’re ready to work for him and I’m 100-per-cent sure he is ready to do it with us.”