Everton starlet John Stones put a testing week behind him by producing an assured defensive performance in tonight's 1-0 defeat by Manchester United.
Castigated for his costly error in England's 2-1 defeat by the Netherlands in midweek, the spotlight shone on the centre-back at Old Trafford, but he managed to put his Three Lions woes to one side and emerge as a rare positive on an otherwise disappointing evening for the Toffees.
Anthony Martial netted the game's only goal on 54 minutes as Roberto Martinez's side slumped to a fourth Premier League defeat in five outings, though Stones's performance might well offer some solace for the Spaniard.
With 89 touches, he was on the ball more than any other Everton player - perhaps a worry given the over-casualness in possession which led to his mistake at Wembley - but the 21-year-old looked more cautious this evening, also registering four clearances.
|Position||Team||Touches||Aerial Won||Total Pass||Accurate Pass||Total Clearance||Duel Won||Total Tackle||Fouls||Mins Played|
Having said that, at times he still looked the classy ball-playing centre-half that he is, making some wonderful passes as the youngster finished up with a passing accuracy of 84.9% - second only to Tom Cleverley with 85.4%.
He also managed to win 13 of his duels and four of his aerial battles, though at 6'2 Stones did boast a height advantage over the Red Devils' forwards. One of his three successful tackles was a perfectly-timed challenge on Martial, too.
A disappointing evening overall for Everton and their fans, but Stones reminded the Premier League why Chelsea bid a reported £30 million (ESPN) for him last summer. Consistency has been an issue in his burgeoning career, though, so it remains to be seen if he can maintain this standard.