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Monday April 7, 2014 MYT 1:42:05 AM
Monday April 7, 2014 MYT 1:43:01 AM
Everton's manager Roberto Martinez reacts ahead of their English Premier League soccer match against Arsenal at Goodison Park in Liverpool, northern England, April 6, 2014. REUTERS/Darren Staples
(Reuters) - Everton manager Roberto Martinez hailed his "phenomenal" players after a 3-0 victory over Arsenal at Goodison Park on Sunday left them breathing down the necks of Arsene Wenger's side in the race for a top-four finish.
Everton, who have 63 points from 32 matches and trail Arsenal by one point with a game in hand, were at their clinical best as strikes from Steven Naismith and Romelu Lukaku put them in control, before former Everton player Mikel Arteta scored an own goal.
"In terms of satisfaction that you can get as a manager, that's as good as it gets," Martinez told the club's website (www.evertonfc.com).
"I thought the performance from the first minute to the last was very strong in every department of the game.
"The players were phenomenal - their awareness, work rate and discipline made it as good a performance as you can get from that point of view."
Martinez promised chairman Bill Kenwright that Everton would qualify for the Champions League when he took over in June and with six games remaining this season they have a good chance of finishing in the top four for the first time since 2005.
They have a difficult run-in, however, including home fixtures against title-chasing Manchester City and last-season's champions Manchester United.
Arsenal face only one team in the top half of the table - ninth-place Newcastle at home - in their remaining matches.
"The total performance had an incredible, arrogant focus about it that was very pleasing," the Spaniard continued.
"Today we had to be perfect in the way we wanted to defend, the way we wanted to use the counter-attack, the way we wanted to be a threat in the final third and the way we wanted to keep possession."
Yet Martinez refused to be drawn on whether the victory was his favourite while in charge at Goodison Park.
"It was a different challenge and I think it would be unfair to compare this performance to another because the implications today were unique," he added.
"What was needed today was breaking many barriers. We were able to keep a clean sheet, score three and carry a threat whereby we could have scored more."
(Reporting By Michael Hann; editing by Toby Davis)
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