11 Mar Sam Allardyce: Cenk Tosun is starting to repay Everton with goals
Everton boss Sam Allardyce felt Cenk Tosun showed why the club had signed him with his goal in Saturday’s 2-0 home victory over Brighton.
Having collected the ball from Leighton Baines just inside the box in the 76th minute, Tosun cracked a shot in off the bar to double the Toffees’ lead.
That was a week after the Turkey striker, signed in January from Besiktas for a reported fee of £27million, opened his Everton account at Burnley.
The hosts had gone in front through a 60th-minute own-goal by Gaetan Bong, who diverted the ball in while under pressure from Theo Walcott, another January signing.
Allardyce said: “The second goal was why we brought Cenk into the club.
“That’s two in two now and we saw the type of finish he delivered, at the right time for us, because going into the final stages of the game just 1-0 up can be very nervous.
“The contribution Cenk is making now, as well as Theo, is making us better.”
Brighton’s Anthony Knockaert was red-carded in the 80th minute following a wild tackle on Baines, and Wayne Rooney then had an 88th-minute penalty saved by Mathew Ryan.
What was a third successive home victory for Everton marked a return to winning ways after back-to-back defeats, 2-1 at Burnley and 1-0 at Watford a week earlier.
Baines made his first appearance since sustaining a calf problem in November, while the starting line-up also featured Yannick Bolasie and Seamus Coleman, each sidelined long-term by injury before making returns to action in December and January respectively.
Allardyce said: “I think what’s been missing is what we saw (against Brighton) – the constant level of performance we showed.
“But also we have been missing for far too long Seamus Coleman, Leighton Baines, Yannick Bolasie. I think those three on top form make us better, and long may they stay fit and continue to help the team go forward.”
The three successive home wins are the only victories in 12 Premier League games for Everton, who have lost five in a row away.
Brighton, who saw their five-match unbeaten run in the league ended, are on course for survival in their maiden Premier League campaign. The Seagulls are currently seven points clear of the relegation zone.
Boss Chris Hughton, whose side beat Arsenal in their previous game, said: “It’s our first season in this division, we’re playing week in, week out against very good sides, and it’s hard to keep those levels consistently in every game.
“Generally when we haven’t been able to, we’ve stayed in the game, which is what we did in the first half.
“But I think with what Everton have, and the defensive options they have, the first goal was going to be important, and it has turned out to be.
“As a manager you try to raise your players for every game, and it’s very difficult when you are playing against good opposition.”