Own-goal double derails Everton’s Euro bid
Boss Roberto Martinez insists Merseysiders still have chance to secure Champions league place
Everton suffered a huge blow in their quest for Champions League football after a pair of own-goals saw them lose 2-0 to Southampton at St Mary’s on Saturday.
The loss meant Everton remained a point behind Arsenal, who currently occupy the fourth and final Champions League spot on offer to Premier League clubs, ahead of the Gunners’ match at home to Newcastle on Monday.
But Everton manager Roberto Martinez insisted the Merseysiders, whose final two league games of the season are against title contenders Manchester City and FA Cup finalists Hull, had not given up on a Champions League place.
“Not at all, from our point of view it doesn’t change at all,” Martinez told BT Sport.
“We have had eight wins in 10 games, that’s a phenomenal return and allows us to go into the next two games trying to get maximum points.
“Today was a real setback ... but we’ll be ready for next Saturday,” the Spaniard added.
Everton, whose 2-0 victory over Manchester United last week led to their former manager David Moyes’ sacking by the English champions, were behind as early as the first minute courtesy of a bizarre own goal.
Antolin Alacaraz got in front of the player he was marking to somehow head a cross from Southampton’s Rickie Lambert past Toffees goalkeeper Tim Howard.
And the visitors fell further behind on the south coast shortly after the half-hour mark when Seamus Coleman diverted Nathaniel Clyne’s cross beyond Howard.
Victory saw the Saints remain eighth in the table.
The Merseysiders will also be looking over their shoulders at Tottenham Hotspur, who are now just three points adrift in sixth after Danny Rose’s bullet header gave them a 1-0 win at Stoke City.
Two stunning goals lit up the relegation battle as Swansea City’s Jonjo Shelvey volleyed in from the centre circle in a 4-1 win over struggling Aston Villa.
Fulham were pegged back to 2-2 by Hull City after Ashkan Dejagah scored a fantastic opener as the Londoners took a two-goal lead.
That result meant Fulham, with 31 points, failed to move out of the relegation zone and stay a point behind 17th-placed Norwich City and four adrift of Villa.
West Bromwich Albion, however, took a huge step towards safety with a nervy 1-0 win over West Ham United thanks to Saido Berahino’s 11th-minute goal that moved them five points clear of danger.