Everton boss Roberto Martinez has hailed Arouna Kone for his “complete” performance against Sunderland – one which has earned him a new contract.
The Ivory Coast international netted a hat-trick in a thrilling 6-2 victory over Sam Allardyce’s side at Goodison Park as the home side bounced back from defeats to Arsenal and Manchester United.
Kone’s deal was due to expire at the end of the season but he has now activated a clause which triggers an extension.
And his manager was thrilled with what he considers his most complete performance in an Everton shirt to date.
“Arouna has always had self-belief,” he said after the match. “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.
“Against Watford, in difficult circumstances, it was a real turning point for his individual role. From that point on he has been very impressive throughout the season and today was the most impressive complete 90 minutes. Scoring a hat-trick and his overall contribution was strong.”
Everton surrendered a two-goal lead before two goals from Kone, one from Romelu Lukaku and an own goal from Sebastian Coates handed them an emphatic victory.
Martinez was delighted with the attacking display produced by his side but remains concerned by their defensive lapses.
“I thought our attacking play was exceptional. More than anything, the understanding of how to break down a defensive system,” he said.
“Sunderland came here with a clear idea of being very difficult to break down and then try to hit us on the counter – and I thought the way we coped with that was very impressive.
“Then, you get into the little moments that you need to be psychologically very strong like when we conceded the equaliser. It was a real test of our understanding and character and we responded in a fantastic manner.
“Of course, we want to and we need to improve defensively. At times, we looked a little bit stretched and a bit reactive and that’s where we need to work. But when you have that attacking power and quality in possession it makes it a very exciting win looking forward.”