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Benitez, Gray & Townsend’s comments after Everton win at Hull City

The Toffees made a meal of it before winning 3-2 in extra time

Hull City v Everton: The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Everton had to come from behind to lead 2-1 at halftime away at Hull City in the FA Cup Third Round, but then allowed the hosts to pull level late in regular time sending the clash to extra time. An Andros Townsend strike from distance got them the winner in the first period of extra time, and put the Blues in the hat for the Fourth Round draw.

Speaking to BBC Sport after the game, manager Rafa Benitez was mostly relieved with the result.

“We know the FA Cup is massive and you could see the atmosphere today. We started by making things difficult for ourselves but the reaction of the team, as usual, was quite good which means that the players care.

“You have to praise all of the players for sure but Demarai Gray played through pain until we had to make the substitution because he was working so hard and Andros Townsend is injured and he’s playing because he wants to help the team. That is the spirit you are expecting from our players.

“It’s always important to win and to win in the cup is massive. I think the way that we played we could have scored three or four goals to finish the game in the first half but we didn’t do it and we had to suffer until the end.”

Hull City v Everton: The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Matchwinner Andros Townsend was pleased to grab the winner in his first game in over a month after sustaining a fracture in his foot.

“It meant a hell of a lot. Everyone who knows me knows I’m a terrible patient when I’m injured and I needed to get back on the pitch as soon as possible. Thanks to the help of the medical team and the manager I was able to do that today safely and help the team into the next round of the cup.

“One thing we can say is that we are still fighting. It seems in every game this season we’ve given ourselves a lot of work to do – we’ve either gone behind early or conceded a goal at some point.

“But this team has character and when we cut the silly mistakes out early in the game hopefully we can go on a run and pick up some points in the league.

“I think this club needs to get into Europe, whether it be through the league or the cup. Unfortunately we went out early doors in the League Cup but listen we’re getting players back, we’ve got a big squad and hopefully we can go far in this competition.”

Goalscorer Demarai Gray, who pulled the Toffees level and was generally a handful for the hosts added -

“To concede so early wasn’t helpful but we responded well. It’s FA Cup football and I’m sure everyone watching enjoyed it but, for us, it was important to get the win. We had to dig deep but we’re happy to be in the hat.

“We knew it would be difficult coming here, we are an experienced side and we know how the FA Cup is. Hull put up a very good fight, credit to them but we showed character and I’m happy we got the win.

“It’s important, it would be nice to go on a good cup run and push as far as we can. For the fans it’s a great competition but we have to take it game by game and today was important, not only for the cup but for team morale and we’ve got to push on now.”