Roberto Martinez: Defeat hurts Everton
Everton manager Roberto Martinez described his side's 3-2 defeat against Crystal Palace as "hurtful" as his team surrendered their advantage over Arsenal in the race for a top-four finish in the Premier League.
Rampant Palace appear to have secured their top-flight status for another season after they reached the 40-point mark at Goodison Park, but the big story of the night was the end of Everton's seven-game winning run and the huge dent their defeat placed in their hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions League.
Martinez's men remain a point behind Arsenal with both teams now having four games left to play, with the Everton boss accepting this result could have been a key moment in his side's campaign.
"It's a real disappointment, a result which is hurtful," the Everton boss told Sky Sports. "The first half we were fearful, the way we conceded the first goal shows that. They didn't have the threat to score three goals. We conceded bad goals.
"The reaction in the second half was ourselves, that was perfect and we were unfortunate not to get something out of the game, but we get ready for the next four games.
"They scored three goals from four shots on target. The breaks went Palace's way and we congratulate them. They were clinical. We wanted to win so much that we stopped being ourselves and that is what we have to learn from.
"Conceding from dead ball situations is always disappointing because we expect that kind of threat from Crystal Palace. It felt like everything that went wrong did go wrong and that can happen in some games. We have to recover and get ready for the next challenge."
When asked whether the defeat against Palace ended his side's bid to oust Arsenal from the top four, a philosophical Martinez did his best to promote Everton's enduring ambitions as he admitted the pressure of the occasion may have got to his players.
"We will try and get as many points as we can, it doesn't change anything," he added. "We have had a magnificent season and we have incredible potential in this squad.
"This was a new situation for us. We wanted to win so much, we wanted to please the crowd and Crystal Palace were probably the worse opposition we could have faced in this situation. We put expectations on ourselves and the team is ready to face that expectations, but we lacked the intensity and that cost us three goals."
Crystal Palace boss Tony Pulis reflected on a job well done since he took over from Ian Holloway at Palace in November, as he accepted this win should secure the Eagles in the Premier League for another season.
"I think we are safe," Pulis told the BBC. "In my first game at Palace when we went to Hull, we had four points, so to get to 40 points is a fantastic achievement for this group of players.
"We owe it to the Premier League to remain competitive until the end of the season and we want to finish the season strongly and get as many points as we can."
"It was an excellent performance from us today. The only thing that was disappointing was the two goals we conceded but we played some good stuff tonight and we always thought if we could move the ball quickly we could score some goals.
"The whole basis of every team I have ever been at is to make sure we have a solid base to give us something to work on."