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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 December 2006, 16:58 GMT
Everton 0-0 Middlesbrough
Everton's Leon Osman battles Boro's Gaizka Mendieta
Everton's Leon Osman battles Boro's Gaizka Mendieta
Middlesbrough mounted a stubborn rearguard action to earn a battling point at Everton.

Jonathan Woodgate was magnificent as Gareth Southgate's side kept Everton at bay despite them dominating possession.

Everton's Andrew Johnson had what appeared to be a clear penalty claim dismissed after he was dragged back by Boro's Andrew Taylor early on.

Middlesbrough substitute Mark Viduka posed a threat after the break, shooting narrowly wide.

Johnson - who recently got an apology from Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho after he accused him of diving - was at the centre of another penalty controversy after only two minutes.

Johnson was pulled back by the shirt by Taylor as he chased a free-kick into the area, but referee Phil Dowd infuriated Goodison Park by waving away Everton's vehement appeals.

It set the scene for 45 minutes of territorial possession from Everton and dogged defensive resistance from Middlesbrough, with Woodgate the game's outstanding performer.

606: DEBATE
TO

Boro occasionally broke the shackles, with Lee Cattermole twice testing the Everton defence with headers.

Everton's main threat came from long range, with Lee Carsley - standing in as captain for suspended Phil Neville - seeing two shots fly just over.

Middlesbrough hinted at a more positive approach with the half-time replacement of Gaizka Mendieta with Viduka.

The Australian striker had the ball in the net inside two minutes, but had strayed into an offside position.

Everton had struggled to make any impact after the break, but youngster Victor Anichebe wasted a good opportunity after 67 minutes, dragging wastefully wide after good work by the outstanding Joleon Lescott and James McFadden.

Viduka had looked a threat since his introduction, and was narrowly off target with an angled shot.


  • Everton manager David Moyes:
    "We had enough of the ball but maybe didn't work their keeper hard enough.

    "I felt our performance just about merited the points, so we are bit disappointed, but I thought we played well enough.

    "I think we have played better over the season than our points total suggests.

    "I felt Andy Johnson was tugged and it was a penalty early on, but we just don't expect to get them now."

  • Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate:
    "I thought we deserved a point for the effort we put in.

    "Everton had much the better of the first half, but we were resilient and dug in. We had to defend well because Everton's strikers are a real handful.

    "It was a good, battling away performance. I felt we needed to be more proactive after the break, which is why we sent Mark Viduka on."


    Everton: Howard, Davies, Yobo, Lescott, Naysmith (Nuno Valente 66), Osman, Carsley, Arteta, McFadden (Van der Meyde 66), Johnson, Anichebe (Beattie 74).
    Subs Not Used: Wright, Weir.

    Booked: Carsley, Davies.

    Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Davies, Woodgate, Pogatetz, Taylor, Mendieta (Viduka 46), Boateng, Cattermole (Parnaby 74), Downing, Arca, Yakubu.
    Subs Not Used: Jones, Rochemback, Christie.

    Booked: Arca.

    Att: 38,126.

    Ref: P Dowd (Staffordshire).



    SEE ALSO
    Boxing Day football photos
    26 Dec 06 |  Football


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