Toffees claim Riverside win
Johnson and McFadden on target for Everton
By Graeme Bailey. Last Updated: 01/01/08 5:14pm
Yakubu: Victory on return
Everton got back to winning ways at The Riverside as they claimed a 2-0 victory over Middlesbrough.
The game was lacking in quality throughout - but it was The Toffees who claimed the win with their superior finishing.
The deadlock was broken on 67 minutes as Andy Johnson got away from Robert Huth before firing past Mark Schwarzer.
The second arrived just five minutes later when Johnson combined with McFadden in the box and the Scott placed his shot into the corner of the net.
The hosts had a fine chance after eight minutes with Dong Gook Lee breaking into the Everton box but Howard's sliding stop saw the ball drop to Downing 20 yards out but with the goalkeeper out of position he failed to get away a shot away in time and his eventual attempt was tame.
There were niggling fouls at both ends of the pitch as each side scrambled to assert themselves but there was precious little quality.
After 29 minutes a flash of inspiration from Rochemback nearly broke the stalemate.
He feigned to cross from the right but instead lifted the ball delicately into the path of the overlapping Young.
The full-back's flighted centre found Downing at the far post and his side-footed volley looked to be going in before what seemed to be the slightest touch from Phil Jagielka on the line.
The second half was less than a minute old when Tuncay was presented with the best chance yet.
O'Neil bullied his way into the penalty area, holding off two challenges before playing the ball hard into the six-yard box.
The Turkey striker was in the right place but could not react quickly enough and the ball merely cannoned off his leg leaving Howard with a simple save.
Boro came close to scoring when Tuncay beat the advancing Howard only for his shot to be headed clear by Joleon Lescott but when O'Neil lined up the rebound from eight yards the goalkeeper was still some distance away and it took a brilliant, instinctive save to keep the ball out.
Johnson took full advantage after 66 minutes.
Pienaar did well to bring down a curling pass into the box and release the England striker to his right.
Johnson peeled away from Robert Huth and dragged a powerful shot low across Schwarzer and into the bottom-left corner.
Boro were nearly caught by a sucker-punch four minutes later, Lee Carsley curling his shot narrowly wide as they committed too many men to attack.
And, sure enough, it was 2-0 soon afterwards.
With 18 minutes left McFadden and the revitalised Johnson broke at pace, sharing a measured one-two in the penalty box to free the Scotland international.
He showed some silky close control as he ghosted into the danger area and stroked home with his left foot, keeping his side well on course for the Uefa Cup in the process.
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|4||Shots off Target||3|
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