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BBC Five Live's Charlie Lambert
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Saturday, 9 September, 2000, 18:00 GMT 19:00 UK
Jeffers brace sinks Boro

Francis Jeffers scores Everton's winner
Middlesbrough 1-2 Everton

Everton's England under-21 striker Francis Jeffers continued his hot streak with a double to earn Walter Smith's side a deserved win at The Riverside Stadium.

Steve Watson's early own goal put Everton on the back foot and gave Middlesbrough a flying start - but Smith's injury hit team showed great resilience to stage a stirring second half recovery and take the three points.

Middlesbrough gave a home debut to Alen Boksic, and he demonstrated his quality as he was behind all the best moves from Bryan Robson's team.

But Everton's greater strength and purpose in the second half gave them their first away win of the season.


We don't have a settled team, we've got a number of injuries and players are playing in different positions in nearly every game. I've had a good reaction from the players today after a difficult start. The last couple of games we've let a two-goal lead slip so it made a pleasant change. But it's going to continue to be difficult for us in the next few weeks
  Everton manager Walter Smith
And Jeffers was the inspiration, proving he has put last season's troubles behind him to re-ignite a career rich in promise.

Everton gave a start to Portugal's Euro 2000 star Abel Xavier - his first action since his protests in the semi-final against France led to an international suspension.

And there was no immediate change in his fortunes when he was outstripped by Boksic for Middlesbrough's opening goal after six minutes.

The Croatian's cross was met by Everton defender Watson, who could only steer the ball unwittingly past his own goalkeeper Paul Gerrard.


Paul Gascoigne eases away from Paul Ince
It was a nightmare moment for Watson, who rejected a 2.5m move to Middlesbrough to join Everton from Aston Villa in the summer.

Jeffers has been Everton's early season star, and he should have added to his tally of three goals when he raced clear after 15 minutes, but was blocked by Middlesbrough keeper Mark Schwarzer.

Boksic should have doubled Middlesbrough's advantage seven minutes before half time when he escaped in yards of space in the penalty area, but fired a wasteful finish past Gerrard but across the face of goal.

Amends

He was in the action again on the stroke of half time, but Watson made amends for his earlier error with a brave block on Boksic.

And Everton made Middlesbrough for their generosity when a bright start to the second half brought an equaliser from Jeffers after 54 minutes.

He was sent clear by a pass from Gravesen, and finished with a flourish across Schwarzer to put Everton level.

And they were almost ahead within two minutes when Gravesen's shot from the edge of the area flashed inches wide.


Everton deserved the win. Their midfielders outworked our midfielders and they took a grip on the game. The thing that concerns me is we've had five games now and we haven't kept one clean sheet. We're conceding far too many this season
  Middlesbrough manager Bryan Robson
Gravesen, who had switched wings with Niclas Alexandersson, and he was dictating matters in the second half on the left flank, and he almost unlocked the Middlesbrough defence after a neat link with Jeffers.

Boksic still looked Middlesbrough's most likely source of danger, and he was clearly frustrated when his creativity set up Christian Karembeu, but the French international took too long to control in the penalty area.

Everton brought on Kevin Campbell for Mark Hughes in an attempt to push home the win, his first appearance since the FA Cup quarter-final defeat against Aston Villa last season.

And it was then that Jeffers struck with four minutes remaining, cutting into the Middlesbrough penalty area before scoring at the second attempt.

Everton have conceded two goal leads in their last two games against Derby County and Spurs - but this time there was no mistake as they held out for a victory.


Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Fleming, Gordon, Vickers, Festa, Karembeu, Ince, Boksic, Job, Stamp, Whelan. Subs: Deane, Ricard, Summerbell, Marinelli, Gavin.

Everton: Gerrard, S. Watson, Weir, Alexandersson, Nyarko, S. Hughes, Jeffers, Gravesen, Gascoigne, M. Hughes, Xavier. Subs: Campbell, Simonsen, Gemmill, Moore, Cleland.

Referee: S Bennett (Orpington)

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