Yakubu ended his goal famine for Everton as they played out an uninspiring draw with Middlesbrough at Goodison Park.
Yakubu ends drought
LIVERPOOL // Yakubu ended his goal famine for Everton as they played out an uninspiring draw with Middlesbrough at Goodison Park last night. The Nigerian striker had not scored in his previous nine starts, but he got on the end of Mikel Arteta's free-kick in the 65th minute to cancel out Gary O'Neil's early goal for the visitors. With the two clubs only one point apart in the Premier League, the danger that each side would cancel the other out was always on the horizon and although Everton will feel unfortunate not to have won, they failed to create enough cast-iron chances, despite their possession, to fully merit a victory.
But it was Middlesbrough who took the lead after eight minutes with a classic counter-attacking goal from O'Neil. Thirty seconds before O'Neil sidefooted past Tim Howard at his nearpost, Middlesbrough had been pinned in their own box defending an Everton attack, but when Phil Neville's cross was cleared, Stewart Downing propelled forward and through Everton's defence, found the unmarked O'Neil with a clinical pass and he did the rest from just inside the box.
Goalkeeper Ross Turnbull then rescued Middlesbrough as he charged off his line to block a Yakubu one-on-one as Everton pressed for an equaliser. Middlebrough got another let-off five minutes later when a Joleon Lescott cross drifted against the upright and bounced down into the path of Marouane Fellaini, but his shot was blocked by Emanuel Pogatetz. Just before the break, Tim Cahill missed a free header from a corner when it would have been easier to score.
The second half followed the same unattractive script that had been written for the first as both sides battled hard. Leon Osman had an effort saved by Turnbull , while Louis Saha put a header wide as Everton pushed forward. They were rewarded with Yakubu's equaliser, which had a hint of good fortune as the ball appeared to hit him on the back as it flew into the net past Turnbull. As the end approached, Howard superbly tipped a Didier Digard effort on to the post as Middlesbrough gave a reminder that they could attack as well, but it was as close as either side would get to finding a winner.