LONDON • Everton manager Roberto Martinez was left purring in appreciation, after Romelu Lukaku scored his sixth goal in five consecutive Premier League games to rescue a point for the Toffees against Crystal Palace on Monday.
Lukaku marked his 100th appearance for Everton by scoring his 50th goal for the club from close range in the 81st minute to level the tie at 1-1, after Scott Dann put the visitors ahead from a corner.
Prior to his goal, the powerful Belgian twice hit the woodwork and tormented Palace's defence all evening with his pace and trickery.
"Rom has been very consistent in the last 12 months.
"He has scored 27 goals this calendar year and that is quite impressive," Martinez said.
"When you look at his overall development in the last 12 months - and we know there is lots more to come at the age of 22 - it makes you realise what a special footballer and special talent we have.
"It is not just talking about potential, I think it is fair to say we are talking about an established goal- scorer, who has got an incredibly big responsibility in our team."
Only Leicester's Jamie Vardy (14) has scored more league goals than Lukaku (11) this season.
But his milestone night was blemished by Dann, who thought he had completed a memorable Merseyside double, having scored the winner at Anfield a month ago.
Said Lukaku: "I am proud but I'm a team performer, so I'm happy with the record but disappointed we didn't get the three points.
"After their goal, we reacted well, it shows we have great character in the team."
Indeed, it was the first time this season that Palace had dropped points from a winning position.
They had won all seven games in which they had led this term.
But manager Alan Pardew felt a draw was a fair result- even if he felt that his side had two shouts for a penalty.
Mile Jedinak fell under Gareth Barry's challenge in the second half while Jordon Mutch was tripped by Ramiro Funes Mori.
"I think the pull on the shirt was certainly a penalty," he said.
"The second one I think is a penalty as well. He has gone to ground.
"He has not won the ball and has clipped Mutch.
"I can't understand how the referee has not seen that from 12 yards.
"But we still can't moan about the result.
"It was two great teams in terms of commitment and effort."
The point was enough to send Palace into sixth place in the table on 23 points, ahead of West Ham and Liverpool on goal difference, with Everton a point adrift of them in ninth spot.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE