Roberto Martinez defends Belgian Mirallas after penalty greed proves critical

 
Ross McLean
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EVERTON boss Roberto Martinez refused to blame Kevin Mirallas after the Belgium playmaker spurned a first-half penalty as the struggling Toffees failed to break down a resolute West Brom at Goodison Park last night.

The home side only carved out one clear-cut opportunity and that was the spot-kick which Mirallas screwed past the post after pushing aside regular taker Leighton Baines, despite the England full-back scoring 15 of his last 16 penalties.

Mirallas did not reappear for the second period with Martinez citing a hamstring injury, while Everton have recorded just one victory in their last 13 matches across all competitions, a sequence which leaves the Merseysiders hovering four points clear of relegation.

“Our penalty taker is Leighton Baines,” said Martinez. “But at that moment Kevin felt really confident. For me, Leighton is the No1 penalty taker. At that point I would have been happy for the two players to discuss it.

“There are a few penalty takers in the squad and they could have stepped up in that moment, the big disappointment is we missed the penalty, not who took it.”

The point moves Everton up a place to 12th but the swagger of last season has long since dissipated, with Mirallas’s indiscretion coming in the 44th minute after former Toffee Joleon Lescott was penalised for handball.

West Brom, who are 14th, were unable to register a shot on target but remain unbeaten since Tony Pulis replaced the sacked Alan Irvine earlier this month, while the Baggies are yet to concede under the ex-Palace manager’s stewardship.