Everton manager Roberto Martinez has come to the defence of centre-back Antolin Alcaraz after he was roundly criticised for his performance in the Europa League encounter with Dynamo Kiev on Thursday, reports the Liverpool Echo.
The Ukrainian league leaders came into the game trailing 2-1 from the first leg, but created numerous chances throughout and stormed to a 5-2 victory by capitalising on some slack defending from the Toffees, who became the final English team to exit European competitions this season.
Alcaraz was singled out after a particularly poor performance, with many criticising his lack of assuredness alongside captain Phil Jagielka. It was the Paraguayan’s third start in succession, having played in the first leg at Goodison park as well as the resounding 3-0 win over Newcastle United three days later.
For Thursday’s game, he kept his place ahead of John Stones, who Martinez was unwilling to risk following his recovery from a virus.
But Martinez, who brought Alcaraz with him to Everton when he moved from Wigan Athletic in the summer of 2013, feels the 32-year-old has been unfairly made a scapegoat. He said: “Antolin had to deal with too many actions that we, as a team, didn’t stop well enough on Thursday night.
“I don’t think defensively he had a poor game, I think as a team we put our defence and keeper under immense pressure because our defensive performance as a team wasn’t up to standard.”
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