Middlesbrough 2 Everton 1

Last updated : 14 October 2006 By Footymad Previewer
This was an impressive win for Middlesbrough against an in form team.

After struggling in the previous home games between Portsmouth and Blackburn Rovers, Middlesbrough raised their game to give a lift to fans who had become worried over the threat of a relegation battle. Manager Gareth Southgate had insisted all along that his players were too good to be stranded near the foot of the table. On this form, the faith of the former Middlesbrough defender was justified.

Everton tried desperately to save the game in the closing stages but overall Middlesbrough deserved the three points.

Middlesbrough gave a Premiership debut to Robert Huth and the former Chelsea defender gave a man of the match performance. Stewart Downing was given a warm pre-match welcome by Middlesbrough fans after being roundly criticised by the media for his England performances.

Jason Euell tried the first shot of the game but was wide for Middlesbrough from outside the penalty area. Simon Davies had a go from 25 yards for Everton but he was well off target.

When Middlesbrough striker Yakubu went down in the box there were loud appeals for the penalty but the referee waved on play.

Middlesbrough were certainly showing improved form on their recent performances in an end to end game. After 26 minutes Middlesbrough were awarded a penalty when goalkeeper Tim Howard brought down Yakubu. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Howard was clearly distraught. Yakubu slowly, almost nonchalantly placed a low shot past Howard who went the wrong way. This was only Middlesbrough's third goal in the last seven games.

Mark Viduka should have increased the lead when the Everton defence got into a tangle.

Middlesbrough were piling on pressure at this stage and looking the more dangerous side.

Everton lost Tony Hibbert through injury and substitute James Beattie took over in the 33rd minute.

Middlesbrough defender Emanuel Pogatetz blocked a shot from Simon Davies that could so easily have been the equaliser. Yakubu had a great chance to increase the lead when he broke clear but he blasted the ball over the bar with only Howard to beat.

Southgate was encouraging his players from the touchline while Everton boss David Moyes looked a little exasperated.

Middlesbrough fans were certainly enjoying the sight of their team applying strong pressure in a game fought at a cracking pace.

Huth had kept Everton striker Andrew Johnson quiet in the second half. A major talking point at half time was whether he would win the second half duel. Moyes was hoping for improvement from his team in the second half.

Middlesbrough midfield player Lee Cattermole was booked for a rash challenge on Lee Carsley early in the second half. Joseph Yobo headed over the bar for Everton and then rescued his side at the other end almost immediately.

There was a cracking atmosphere in a ding dong battle. Middlesbrough were awarded a second penalty after 65 minutes when an assistant referee ruled Joleon Lescott had handled in the area. Yakubu had a chance to enhance his reputation as a penalty taker but Howard came off best on this occasion with a full length save to his right. An escape for Everton all credit to Howard for his anticipation.

Cattermole wasted a chance for Middlesbrough before Viduka increased the lead after 71 minutes. The Australian international rounded off a flowing move with a shot following a final pass by Euell.

Everton pulled a goal back through a fine individual effort by Tim Cahill and then piled on fierce pressure in the closing stages. Middlesbrough held out in a ding dong battle that provided excellent entertainment for the fans.