- Premier League
Martinez rues 'hurtful' loss in chase for top four place
Everton manager Roberto Martinez described his side's 3-2 defeat against Crystal Palace as "hurtful" as his team surrendered their advantage over Arsenal in the race for a top-four finish in the Premier League.
Palace appear to have secured their top-flight status for another season after they reached the 40-point mark at Goodison Park, but the big story of the night was the end of Everton's seven-game winning run and the huge dent their defeat placed in their hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions League.
Martinez's men remain a point behind Arsenal with both teams now having four games left to play, with the Everton boss accepting this result could have been a key moment in his side's campaign.
"It's a real disappointment, a result which is hurtful," Martinez told Sky Sports. "The first half we were fearful, the way we conceded the first goal shows that. They didn't have the threat to score three goals. We conceded bad goals.
"The reaction in the second half was ourselves, that was perfect and we were unfortunate not to get something out of the game, but we get ready for the next four games.
"They scored three goals from four shots on target. The breaks went Palace's way and we congratulate them. They were clinical. We wanted to win so much that we stopped being ourselves and that is what we have to learn from.
"Conceding from dead ball situations is always disappointing because we expect that kind of threat from Crystal Palace. It felt like everything that went wrong did go wrong and that can happen in some games. We have to recover and get ready for the next challenge."
When asked whether the defeat against Palace ended his side's bid to oust Arsenal from the top four, a philosophical Martinez did his best to promote Everton's enduring ambitions as he admitted the pressure of the occasion may have got to his players.
"We will try and get as many points as we can, it doesn't change anything," Martinez said. "We have had a magnificent season and we have incredible potential in this squad.
"This was a new situation for us. We wanted to win so much, we wanted to please the crowd and Crystal Palace were probably the worse opposition we could have faced in this situation. We put expectations on ourselves and the team is ready to face that expectations, but we lacked the intensity and that cost us three goals."