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Martinez hails "exceptional" Everton and hails Kone's best game in blue shirt

Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Roberto Martinez understandably singled out hat-trick hero Arouna Kone for praise after Everton's 6-2 thrashing of Sunderland at Goodison Park.

Kone became the second Toffees player to hit a treble this season as Everton recovered from conceding a two-goal lead to secure a first league win since the end of September.

It caps a fine comeback for the Ivorian, who initially seemed to struggle upon his return to the first-team last season after a career-threatening knee injury.

He became something close to a comedy figure among Evertonians, with some fans even going so far as to boo him onto the field against Watford on the opening day of the season.

Kone would go one and score the equaliser against the Hornets, with Martinez singling out that August afternoon as the turning point in the 31-year-old's Everton career.

"Arouna has always had self-belief. 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."

The boss also spoke of his delight at Everton's overall attacking play, which saw the record their biggest Premier League win since a 7-1 victory against the same opposition in November 2007.

Defensively there is still room for improvement though, with the afternoon initially threatening to turn sour when Jermain Defoe and Steven Fletcher hauled Sam Allardyce's side level.

"I thought our attacking play was exceptional. More than anything, the understanding of how to break down a defensive system.

"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."