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Gremio’s match-winner Everton on cloud nine

Striker savours man-of-the-match performance after coming on in 72nd minute

  • Gremio’s Everton celebrates after firing his team ahead.Image Credit: Reuters
  • Pachuca’s Colombian defender Oscar Murillo (right) tussles with Gremio’s Argentine defender Walter Kannemann.Image Credit: AFP
Gulf News

Al Ain: Gremio’s 21-year-old striker Everton has ‘blessed’ prominently tattooed on his neck. On Tuesday, he indeed turned out to be the blessed one as his extra time striker put the Copa Libertadores champions past Mexico’s Pachuca into the final of the Fifa Club World Cup.

Everton drifted inside from the left and curled home a fierce strike past Pachuca’s reputed veteran goalkeeper Oscar Perez to steal the match-winner.

The youngster just couldn’t hide his excitement of bagging the man-of-the-match award and was seen patiently obliging each and every journalist in the mixed zone.

“It is a dream for me and all players to participate in the championship and we talked about it all year,” said a beaming Everton, who came on to the field in the 72 minute in place of Michel to add more firepower to the forward line. “It is unique moment for most of the players. Lot of our players didn’t have this opportunity before. I’m just 21 and it is great to have this award, feels really good.”

That substitution clicked and the stubborn five-man defence of Pachuca buckled under the pressure and fatigue of playing two back-to-back 120-minute matches.

“It was important for us to make the final,” said Everton. “It’s what we all wanted. We knew that it wasn’t going to be an easy game and that we were going to be nervous on our Club World Cup debut, but we were able to keep a lid on.”

Everton accepted that the absence of their key playmaker Arthur Melo, with injuries, did hurt his side.

“He is a very important player to our squad and so his presence was missed but the coach made some great decisions,” he said. “Regardless of Arthur being here, we managed a great result, so that was good.”

Everton added that it was tough for him being on the bench.

“You always suffer a bit more because you’re nervous and you want to be on the pitch,” he said, adding that he was waiting for an opportunity and when it came was keen to make the most and it clicked.

“I didn’t really plan that goal. The ball came to me and I stuck my chest out to try and bring it under control. Then there was space for me to exploit and shot it well.

“We saw it in Pachuca’s previous game and their defenders are very tall but they’re slower than us. So the coach knew that he needed the speed of Fernandinho and me. And we managed to get the better of their defence.”

Everton is confident that his team can now go on to win the title even if they meet the mighty Real Madrid in the finals.

“The main thing is to believe that we can win,” he said. “The motivation is to create that history. The important thing for me going into the final is to put my name in the history of the club and not think who our opponent is.

“We know like playing against big stars should Real make it to finals. We cannot make mistakes so we must be concentrated every single minute. We just cannot give them chance to do what they like to do and that we have to keep in mind.”

Everton seemed in no mood to explore the possibility of moving to any European club.

“As of now, the focus is on the next match and want to do well more than anything else. About future, can think later,” he said. “Opportunities will keep coming as long as you keep up the good work.”