Football: Hat-trick hero Kone gets new Everton contract

Sunderland midfielder Jack Rodwell (left) vies with Everton's Arouna Kone.
Sunderland midfielder Jack Rodwell (left) vies with Everton's Arouna Kone.AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Manager Roberto Martinez hailed one of Arouna Kone's finest performances in an Everton shirt after the Ivory Coast international bagged a hat-trick in Sunday's 6-2 Premier League win over Sunderland.

Martinez also announced that Kone had triggered a clause in his contract that means his deal with the Goodison Park club has been extended until June 2017.

"He has been very impressive throughout the season and today was the most impressive, complete 90 minutes," the Spaniard told the club website (www.evertonfc.com).

Kone was Martinez's first signing as Everton manager in a £6 million (S$12 million) move from Wigan Athletic in 2013, but he spent more than a year on the sidelines with a knee injury before returning in December.

"Arouna has always had self-belief," said former Wigan boss Martinez.

"It's been as difficult as you are going to get, a new player coming to a new club, then having a career-threatening injury.

"From that point he was catching up but his attitude and focus never changed. He never chose to blame anyone or anything, all he wanted was an opportunity."

 

Martinez said he was particularly pleased with his forwards on Sunday as Everton climbed to eighth in the table.

"I thought our attacking play was exceptional," he added.

"More than anything, the understanding of how to break down a defensive system.

"Sunderland came here with a clear idea of being difficult to break down and then try to hit us on the counter attack and I thought the way we coped with that was very impressive."

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce disagreed with Martinez, saying his second from bottom team were to blame for their second-half capitulation after having rallied from 2-0 down to get back to 2-2 just after halftime.

"We've thrown away an opportunity to feel good this weekend," said Allardyce.

"We went behind when we really shouldn't have done, clawed our way to 2-2 and then, for me, that's when we should have been at least coming off with a point.

"If Everton had scored a wonder goal you can say 'there's not a lot we can do about that', but the last four goals were all stoppable by us and there was nothing brilliant about Everton's play.

"We became so open and so easy to play through," said Allardyce.

"We seemed to get carried away by the euphoria of getting the equaliser."