Everton manager Roberto Martinez has admitted striker Romelu Lukaku’s injury-time equaliser in their English FA Cup clash with West Ham United on Tuesday prevented a “horrendous setback” for the Toffees.
The Belgium international’s goal fired home from midfielder Bryan Oviedo’s late cross cancelled out Hammers defender James Collins’ 56-minute opener at Goodison Park, to force a replay at Upton Park.
It also halted a dismal run of four successive defeats for the Blues, which looked like turning into their worst sequence since 2005 with them trailing by a goal before Lukaku struck.
“It would have been very damaging but you always get an opportunity to win the next game,” said Martinez on avoiding a fifth successive loss.
“At the moment the cup is such an important competition for us it would have been a horrendous setback.”
“It is very important we are still in the cup and now look forward to the next game in the league [at home to Manchester City] but still aware we are in a bad run.”
Lukaku’s goal, his fourth in as many appearances against West Ham, may have only secured a replay but it felt much more significant than that.
Asked about the importance of the goal Martinez, whose side have won just once in ten games, added: “Huge. When you walk into a dressing room with a defeat it is a completely different situation.”
“It is a big moment to be able to go in with different emotions and I am extremely proud of the players.”
Martinez also praised Lukaku on his return to the starting line-up after two games on the bench.
“The whole week he has trained very well and his attitude was perfect,” the Spanish boss added.
“Rom at his best will change games. We carry a different threat.”
“I was really pleased with his attitude, showing real responsibility and maturity. In a period like ours you have two options, you can shy away and hide or you can take responsibility.”