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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 September 2007, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Everton 2-0 Middlesbrough
By Owen Phillips

Everton's Joleon Lescott leaps high to head Everton ahead
Lescott leaps highest to head Everton in to an early lead
Everton made Middlesbrough pay for some sloppy finishing to move up to fifth spot in the Premier League.

Top-scorer Joleon Lescott coolly headed his fourth goal of the season to put the home side ahead after Boro failed to clear Mikel Arteta's vicious corner.

And Steven Pienaar steered in the second from Arteta's pass to seal the win after a sweeping Everton move.

But Boro will rue a first-half display which saw George Boateng, Gary O'Neil and Dong-Gook Kee waste great chances.

Boss Gareth Southgate will have been left scratching his head in total bewilderment as to how his Boro side failed to score in a refreshingly open first half.


Three times the visitors carved out glorious chances and three times they missed them.

The first fell to Boateng with the score at 0-0 but the Dutchman made a mess of his attempted dinked finish after bursting on to Mido's clever pass.

Everton made Boro pay within seconds when they failed to deal with Arteta's vicious inswinging corner.

Yakubu made a nuisance of himself at the near post and although Jonathan Woodgate cleared the ball off the line when it looped up in the air off Mark Schwarzer, Lescott showed great composure to guide his header past a sea of bodies and into the bottom of the net.

O'Neil then had another simple opportunity for the visitors but, after cutting inside Alan Stubbs, he shot tamely at Tim Howard from eight yards.

But the easiest opening of all saw Lee manage to somehow plant his header against the bar from six yards after a fine run and cross from Luke Young.

You can talk about missed chances but you lose as a team

Gareth Southgate

Everton, prompted by the ever-impresseive Arteta, were also dangerous going forward and Yakubu squandered a free header from six yards after a wonderful short corner routine saw Leighton Baines flight in a perfect cross.

And, as a riveting half drew to a close, Arteta twice tested Schwarzer from the edge of the box.

It was no surprise that the chances began to dry up after the interval.

The home side made a slightly nervy start as Boro exerted a decent spell of pressure.

But a wonderful move saw Everton double their lead just before the hour.

Pienaar won possession and some crisp passing in the midfield created space for Arteta in the box and Pienaar continued his run to cleverly guide home the Spaniard's exquisite outside-of-the-boot pass.

Boro searched for an instant reply but Everton expertly defended their lead with Mido's searing first-time volley over from long range as close as Boro came.

  • Everton boss David Moyes:
    "Middlesbrough had a couple of chances in the first half which I'm not happy about but we made some and to tuck them away was good.

    "Mikel is a really important player for us and played well. He made a difference. It was a lovely ball in for the second goal and a lovely finish by Steven, very simple.

    "But the clean sheet pleases sometimes more than the goals - we've been difficult to beat since I've been here but not kept as many clean sheets as we should have done.

    "That's two wins and two clean sheets this week - hopefully we'll get the same in the UEFA Cup on Thursday."

  • Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate:
    "You lose matches for a reason and there are plenty of reasons why we've lost today.

    "You can talk about missed chances but you lose as a team and we conceded goals which were poor and elements of our game weren't good enough.

    "We are conceding too many and there are any number of reasons why that is - but today there were not enough big performances to win the game.

    "We didn't do enough to get anything out of the game today - but I felt we were always in it until they got their second goal."

    Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Lescott, Stubbs, Baines, Arteta (Carsley 90), Jagielka, Neville, Pienaar, McFadden (Yobo 76), Yakubu (Anichebe 66).
    Subs Not Used: Wessels, Van der Meyde.

    Goals: Lescott 7, Pienaar 58.

    Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Young, Woodgate, Wheater, Taylor, O'Neil, Boateng, Rochemback, Downing, Mido (Craddock 62), Lee (Riggott 72).
    Subs Not Used: Jones, Cattermole, Hines.

    Booked: O'Neil, Mido, Rochemback, Lee.

    Att: 31,885.

    Ref: Mike Riley (Yorkshire).


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