Demarai Gray insists his confidence is sky-high following a decisive contribution to Everton’s Florida Cup success in the early hours of Monday morning.
Forward Gray, on at half-time for a first Everton appearance, struck his team’s equaliser from the penalty spot after Colombian opponents Millonarios went in front on 19 minutes.
The 25-year-old stepped up again to score Everton’s second in a marathon shootout, which Rafa Benitez’s side won 10-9 after Asmir Begovic followed up his successful kick with a save from opposite number Juan Esteban Moreno.
Gray completed a move from Bayer Leverkusen to Goodison Park last week to become the Blues' third signing since Benitez took charge in June.
He rifled his 64th-minute penalty inside Moreno’s right post after the keeper fouled Nathan Broadhead, before beating the 22-year-old on the same side with his second kick from 12 yards.
“I fancied it [penalty in regulation time], I thought it would be a good way to get off the mark in my first game,” Gray told evertontv.
“I am feeling confident… and as I pick up fitness, hopefully, I can take that into the new season.
“I felt good, I felt sharp, I was happy to score the penalty and for the team to win the shootout. It is positive.
“I have settled well and felt I trained well in my first few days.
“I took that into the game today, I was positive on the ball and made sure my touches were good.
“Most importantly, [the game was valuable] for the legs and all round it’s a positive day.
“The season is fast approaching, so I needed that. The team did as well.
“Conditions are tough and it well help us get fitter.”
Everton trailed in Orlando when Millonarios defender Andres Llinas profited from a slice of fortune after heading Harrison Mojica’s right-wing corner against the near post.
Llinas was off balance and his eyes weren’t on the ball as it rebounded back off his heel and into the net.
Begovic, playing his first football for the Club, made smart saves either side of the goal, denying Llinas’ penalty-box shot, then standing firm after full-back Felipe Roman’s run and low drive.
Everton’s third debutant, Andros Townsend, cracked the bar with a clean strike three minutes before the break.
And Benitez’s team steadily gained the upper hand after half-time.
Forward Broadhead, on for the second 45 minutes, sent an angled drive narrowly wide at 1-0 and had a shot from close-range saved by Moreno towards the end.
Despite their possession and territory, however, Benitez’s side couldn’t add to Gray’s penalty, awarded after Moreno came out feet first and mistimed his challenge on the advancing Broadhead.
Everton prevailed in the shootout, scoring 10 of 11 efforts to Millonarios’ nine – with Gray depositing his team’s second high into the left corner.
Manager Benitez’s side are back at the Camping World Stadium to face Mexican side Pumas on Wednesday.
“I felt the same [as when taking the first],” said Gray.
“I was confident. You know, pick a corner and go with it. And I did that.
“It [working with Benitez] has been very good, just in terms of detail.
“I think, for me, it's the final details that need working on and they are the most important things.
“Small details that make big differences. I'm happy with the first week and I'm excited to keep working with him [Benitez] and the boys.
“It was positive all round for the new boys. We've got another game on Wednesday and hopefully we can keep up the same form and get the fitness up.”