Everton 0 Middlesbrough 0

Last updated : 26 December 2006 By Footymad Previewer
A hugely entertaining afternoon's football ended in an unlikely stalemate at Goodison Park with amazingly no shots on target.

Everton were looking for another three points against Boro to build on Saturday's important away win at Reading and get their faltering season back on track.

David Moyes decided to immediately bring back impressive youngster Victor Anichebe after injury with an injured Phil Neville making way.

In the first return fixture of the season, Gareth Southgate was hoping his side could emulate their 2-1 victory against the Toffees at the Riverside in October.

But though his side arrived on Merseyside on the back of a decent 2-0 victory over strugglers Charlton, Boro's inability to win on the road would have been of concern.

The game began at a decent pace with Everton testing the pace of the Boro defence and the Blues had a good shout for a penalty in the opening minutes. Andrew Taylor blatantly pulled Andy Johnson back but referee Phil Dowd waved away appeals from players and home crowd alike.

Everton were starting to look rampant and could have had a further two penalties after Anichebe was felled in the area and Julio Arca seemed to handle.

However, Dowd was not in a giving mood and in fairness waved away a Boro appeal when Leon Osman brought down Yakubu in the Everton box minutes later.

It was Boro who could have opened the scoring in the 20th minute after a period of possession when a great cross by Taylor found Lee Cattermole, who could only direct his free header on to the roof of Tim Howard's net.

Lee Carsley almost put the Toffees ahead on 28 minutes with a spectacular 30-yard deflected effort with landed on the roof of a relieved Mark Schwarzer's goal.

Osman's pace and James McFadden's link-up play were beginning to cause problems for Southgate's men and Everton began to take control of the game with Taylor doing well to hold off Anichebe who was inches away from heading his side in front on 33 minutes.

As half-time approached, Lee Carsley tried his hand at another 30-yarder which again only narrowly missed.

Everton's dominance deserved a goal and Moyes would have been a little concerned about the 0-0 scoreline at the start of the second half.

Southgate brought on Mark Viduka for Gaizka Mendieta as he sensed maybe his team had luck on their side.

Viduka made an instant impact and had the ball in the net in the first minute but was rightly flagged offside.

A wonderful Everton move on 63 minutes should have provided the first goal with Joleon Lescott dribbling out of defence and passing to the impressive McFadden. The Scot chose Anichebe over Johnson but the youngster screwed his shot well wide.

The move signalled a period of dominance for the Toffees with man-of-match McFadden at the heart of everything.

Moyes added Nuno Valente for Gary Naysmith and strangely Andy van der Meyde replaced McFadden to the bemusement of the crowd.

Middlesbrough were having difficulty containing the home side but Everton were not actually getting any clean shots on goal.

Viduka almost made them pay on 72 minutes when his shot from the left screwed just wide of Howard's right-hand post.

Both managers tinkered with their sides as the game drew to a close. Anichebe made way for James Beattie and Stuart Parnaby replaced the industrious Cattermole with 15 minutes to go.

Beattie had the ball in the Boro net with four minutes to go but the whistle had already gone for a Carsley foul on George Boateng.

Jonathan Woodgate almost put the ball in his own net in injury-time as Everton piled on the pressure, but it proved to be an afternoon of frustration for Moyes with his opposite number Southgate happy with a point.