Everton manager Ronald Koeman hails 'fantastic' Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku
By Charlotte Marsh
Last Updated: 09/04/17 7:08pm
Ronald Koeman hailed the "fantastic" performances of Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku after Everton beat Leicester 4-2 on Nissan Super Sunday.
The duo came in for criticism following the Merseyside derby defeat last weekend but came roaring back with match-winning turns at Goodison Park.
Barkley, who was named man of the match, set up one of Lukaku's two goals and and Koeman was full of praise for the pair after the game.
"They [Barkley and Lukaku] do not need to respond [to criticism]," Koeman told Sky Sports.
"They just needed to get out there and do what they normally do. I have defended the boys against criticism, and they showed today they are fantastic football players.
"The cross from Ross and the finish from Romelu was fantastic. This was two players at a high level this afternoon. The whole team played fantastic, that is what we want to see, especially at home.
"The final decision [about a transfer] is down to the player. Ross and one more year of [his] contract, and Romelu has two more years and completely different situations.
"We are trying to build a really good team to challenge the top six in the Premier League. This is the first step, and we will go forward next season."
An entertaining encounter yielded five goals in the first half but Lukaku's second after the break sealed the win for the hosts.
And the result thrilled Koeman as the Toffees look to maintain the pressure on Arsenal and Man Utd ahead of them in the table.
"I am really happy. First of all with the three points, and then the way we played. We played some fantastic football in the first 45 minutes," he added.
"Then, after it went 4-2, we played it really clever and controlled the game. It was a really good team performance.
"It was difficult with Leicester playing with two strikers. I normally like to go with three centre-backs, but I had to go with two. Morgan [Schneiderlin] did a great job in front.
"There was great movement between the lines, which made it very difficult for Leicester this afternoon."