Andros Townsend was delighted to return with a bang for Everton and Saturday’s match-winner is now eyeing FA Cup glory and European qualification.
Having started the year with an alarming 3-2 home loss to Brighton, under-fire Rafael Benitez was subject of chants from the away end as the Toffees threatened to come unstuck at Hull.
Tyler Smith put the Championship hosts ahead inside 45 seconds, with Demarai Gray and Andre Gomes turning things around only for Ryan Longman to take the third-round tie to extra-time.
Substitute Townsend’s screamer then settled an entertaining tie as the former England international returned from a foot injury that had lied him low for a month.
“It meant a hell of a lot,” he said after the 3-2 triumph. “Anybody who knows me knows that I’m a terrible patient when I’m injured.
“I needed to get back on the pitch as soon as possible.
“Thanks to the medical team and the manager I was able to do it today safely and help this team into the next round of the cup.
“I think one thing we can say is that we’re still fighting.
“It seems that in every game this season we have given ourselves a lot of work to do.
“We’ve gone behind early or conceded a goal. One thing this team does have is character.
“When we cut the mistakes out of our game, I think we can go on a run and pick up some points in the league.”
Everton’s attention quickly turns to Tuesday’s clash with Leicester and Townsend hopes the victory in East Yorkshire can provide the catalyst for a successful end to the season.
“I think that is what this club needs,” he said on Everton’s official website. “We need to get into Europe, whether it’s in the league or the cup.
“Unfortunately, we went out early doors in the League Cup but listen, we’re getting players back.
“We have a big squad and hopefully we can go far in this competition and get back to winning ways in the league as well.”
Everton may have secured their place in the hat for the fourth round but Hull did themselves proud at the MKM Stadium.
Grant McCann’s side impressed throughout the encounter, which was watched from the stands by prospective new owner Acun Ilicali.
Asked if he had met the Turkish businessman yet, the Hull boss said: “No, I haven’t.
“These sort of things are very hard for me to comment on because our only real focus at this football club in getting us into form, trying to win football games.
“Us as a staff and players, we don’t get involved in anything like that, so it’s very hard for us to speak about it.
“We obviously knew they were at the game but our focus is only on the football.
“I’ve honestly got no idea (if confirmation of the takeover is close).”
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