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Middlesbrough 1 - 2 Everton

Half-time: 1 - 0


FA Carling Premiership 2000-01 – Game #5
3pm Saturday 9 September 2000
Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough
Att: 30,885
« Tottenham Hotspur (a) Ref: Steve Bennett Manchester United (h) »
[ Matchday Calendar ] League Position: 7th [ Results & Table ]
 MATCH SUMMARY
Keven Campbell - back at last It gets worse before it gets even worse...  The injury crisis decimating Everton's defence has claimed yet another in the form of deputy captain, David Unsworth.  But Abel Xavier makes a surprise return in defence, and Kevin Campbell on the bench. 

And for the second match running, Paul Gascoigne returns to a former home, this time to a less enthusiastic group of former fans.  But he put in a markedly better performance than he did at Spurs.

Weir was injured in the first few minutes, going off for some stitches. And while he was off, Watson scored a brilliant volleyed own-goal when there was absolutely no danger following an innocuous Boksic cross from the left.  Unbelievable!

15th min Jeffers through on goal and did everything right but Schwarzer saved well.  Everton went on to play some great football but Boro were always dangerous on the break.

Early in the second half, a fabulous Everton move resulted in a fantastic goal for Francis Jeffers, and Everton went on to play some more excellent stuff, but could not turn their many chances into goals.  Watson made up for his earlier indiscretion with some vital defensive blocks and tackles.

On came Kevin Campbell, and soon after it was a great attack that saw not him but Francis Jeffers score the second excellent Everton goal.  What a comeback!

 

  
 MATCH FACTS
   GOALSCORERS  Debuts
Middlesbrough: S Watson (og:7')
EVERTON: Jeffers (53', 84')
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used 
Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Fleming, Gordon, Vickers (24' Gavin), Festa, Karembeu, Ince (74' Deane), Boksic, Job (74' Ricard), Stamp, Whelan. Summerbell, Marinelli.
EVERTON: Gerrard; S Watson, Weir {capt}, Xavier, S Hughes; Gravesen, Nyarko (87' Cleland), Gascoigne, Alexandersson; M Hughes (81' Campbell), Jeffers. 
Unavailable: Dunne (suspended), Ball, Ferguson, Gough, Myhre, Pembridge,
Pistone, Unsworth (injured). 
Simonsen, Gemmill, Moore. 
   Playing Strips  Formations
Middlesbrough: Red shirts; white shorts; red socks. 4-4-2
EVERTON: Royal Blue shirts; blue shorts; blue socks. 4-4-2
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
Middlesbrough: Flemming (38'), Stamp (45'), Whelan (48')
EVERTON:

  

 MATCH REPORTS
 REPORTS BY EVERTON FANS
Mickey Blue Eyes The Charlton Syndrome
Rob Burns Individuals becoming a team?
Mark Staniford Link to SFTH Report
 NEWSPAPER REPORTS
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Gascoigne still has gas in the tank
by Steve Thomson
THE SUNDAY TIMES Gazza hammers home message
by Louise Taylor
THE TIMES Gascoigne savours mobility allowance
by Martin Woods
 LINKS TO NEWSPAPER REPORTS
THE OBSERVER Link to Football Unlimited
THE INDEPENDENT Link to Match Reports
THE GUARDIAN Link to Football Unlimited
DAILY POST Link to Daily Post Report

LIVERPOOL ECHO Link to Liverpool Echo Report

 LINKS TO OTHER INTERNET REPORTS
EVERTON FC SITE Link to Official Match Report

BBC SPORTS Link to BBC Match Report
SKY SPORTS Link to Sky Sports Match Report
SPORTING LIFE Link to PA Sports Match Report
SOCCERNET Link to SoccerNet Match Report
FA-PREMIER Link to FA-Premier Match Report

 
 The Charlton Syndrome
Mickey Blue Eyes
 
Good result in the circumstances... but the Skunk bizzies struck again and virtually ruined the day out for me.  It was enough for me to say that I'll NEVER attend another game at Middlesbrough as long as I live.  That's how strongly I feel about it.  It just isn't worth it when you have to carry The Philosopher's Stone to a FOOTBALL match, fer chrissakes.  Yeuk!  On the better side, it was a beautiful day to be travelling through that wonderful Yorkshire and North East countryside.  Autumn is here but nothing looks faded yet.

Did I say "faded".....aaaarrgghhh!  EVERYTHING reminds me of the fucking Charlton Syndrome.

The bus got us to Thirsk (as a scouser I must insist this pretty little town be renamed T-H-E-R-S-K) and a refreshments stop at The Black Bull in the market square.  A great little pub with good food and a plentiful supply of lively Blue Bellies already embedded in the walls, on chairs and stools, almost in the carpet.  Cheerful and capable bar staff, oh yes they DO exist in England, kept us lubricated and gave as good as they got in the banter stakes.  You can't help but love your country at times like that.

Back on the road... feeling really good about everything.  Then Skunk bizzies appeared everywhere.  I'll spare you the gory details... That little episode over, and your reporter still boiling with anger, we became Uneasy Riders.

Even without the accompaniment of Teeside's version of the 24th Waffen Gebirgskarst jagerdivision der SS, it would have been something of a dispiriting approach to the ground.  The whole area looks like an abandoned set for "Blade Runner."  You can feel nothing but sympathy for those who have to work and live amongst it all.  Makes me shudder every time I see it.

Still, Gibson, Boro's owner, has done them well in appalling circumstances.  Despite their traditions, Boro have never convinced me they are one of England's best clubs.  Somehow an air of tackiness attaches to them.  I hope that doesn't sound absurdly chauvinist because it's just a personal impression.  Gibson's financial juggling appears to have created a minor miracle where none seems possible.  Remember Juninho and Ravanelli?

By the time the game kicked off, such exotic reveries were right at the back of my mind.  We had reserves and players out of position all over the place.  Boro did too, but not as much as us.

Which explains why I watched bleakly as they overran us during the first 10 minutes and Stevie oggied in the 7th minute with a panache I haven't seen since Mick Lyons strutted his stuff.  Boksic skinned Abel consummately down our right, closed in and hit a hard, low cross which Stevie, on his own and just beyond right side goal area, should have sent spiralling over the roof.  Instead, bafflingly, he rattled it firmly into Paul's lower right corner.  Yet one more ludicrous goal to add to our Against column... which is rapidly assuming the quality of a John Cleese script.  Except it makes us weep.

We eventually weathered the early storm and gradually played it around well, if ineffectually.  Our main problem was midfield where Alex was having a 'mare against Karembeu or whatever his name is.  Fifty-fifties invariably went against us always a bad omen for the way a game is due to run.  We weren't out of it exactly.  But given The Charlton Syndrome there was no reason for optimism was there?

In fact, the only voice of hope I heard was in the row behind me where one guy kept saying, "If we keep playing footy it'll come, it'll come."  I had to bite my lip and refrain from asking which year.  Experience of the Skunk bizzies had plainly left a searing scar...

You could tell it didn't look good by our half-time conversation.  We were all sulking one way or another and in long dispute about which lazy/incompetent/untalented/useless bastard to take off.  Me for no reason other than total irrationality I was in favour of Yozzer 2 doing a bunk....preferably fucking off permanently.  Unfair, of course; it could have been anybody.

I broached a philosophical note: maybe The Charlton Syndrome would work in reverse?  I had no evidence for this, merely the tendency of a drowning man to clutch at straws.  Glug, glug!

BUT IT WAS SO!

We came out in the second half and to use a well-worn scouse expression fuckn' werked it up dem, like.  Amazed by this change of fortune and attitude. I found myself dancing in the nearest aisle embracing total strangers.  This occurred about ten minutes into the second half when The Ears got his seemingly almost inevitable goal.  It had an interesting origin and route.

Boro tried the same right-wing move, except this time Abel casually removed it from Boksic's path at the edge of our penalty area.  Equally casually he strolled across our own penalty area while we all screamed foul obscenities and Boro fans chortled at an obvious sign of incompetence.  He played the ball through midfield and it ended up at The Gravedigger's feet just inside their half, centre circle.  He looked up once and, emulating Abel, casually delivered a perfect pass that took out the entire left side of Boro's defence and left The Ears on a solo stride into their left penalty area.

At which point I immediately consulted the field placings.  Well, The Ears NEVER hits it hard and NEVER from distance does he?  I got my focus back on him just in time to see him watch it bounce and drop before hitting a screaming volley into the keeper's right side net.  You lose control of your feelings at a time like that.. it's one of the attractions of the game.  The away section plainly felt exactly the way I did.  I ended up in a mess.  But then so did Boro.

After that, odd scare apart, there was only one team in it and that team was US.  You get nervous you know, the Charlton Syndrome 'n' all but we always looked likely....  Alex had finally battled Karembeu to a standstill until the Cameroonian lost his temper... most encouraging!  The defence had snuffed out Boksic after his early surge, and even The Gravedigger started making forward runs.  

Must've irked Gazza, for 'twas he who made the second a few minutes from the end.  He got the ball in the centre circle, slightly left.  And on the basis that Anything The Gravedigger Can Do I Can Do Better, he sent a long deadly accurate pass out to our right to The Ears closing in, acute angle.  By now we were all a bit mesmerised by events.  It was fuck all to the way Boro felt and reacted.  The Ears cool and casual as you like turned a defender inside out, brushed past him, hit a close in shot that came back off a combo of keeper/goal line defender and then patted it home.  Pandemonium!!!

We almost forgot that, surprisingly, SuperKev had come on toward the end, showed no sign of his injury, and won his first three headers with his trademark brilliant timing thereof.  At the final whistle, as usual, he was right over to the fans and calling the rest of the team over.

But it was The Ears' match.  If he can keep this up, he's destined for playing immortality... that's five goals now and looking more determined by the day.

It was an excellent second-half team performance all round.  The Charlton Syndrome may not have disappeared but it has been dealt an important psychological blow.  The sooner it has been permanently fucked off, the better.

And where better to finally bury it than at Goodison?  And what better time than next week against the Mancs?  
  


   Up to Reports Index ]
 Individuals becoming a team?
Rob Burns
 
The end to a heady night in Newcastle can only be rounded off by a report on the match which was such an inspiration to the pursuit of booze & birds in the wastelands of the North East.  Sadly the start of the game was marred by the pissed Evertonians who shouted through the minute silence which preceded kick off.  I suppose you can only imagine that your fellow supporters are 'better than that'.

Where the Norsemen once raped and pillaged, a wounded Everton side were the least anticipated danger to Bryan Robson's Middlesbrough side as they looked for a home win in response to squandering a three-goal lead in midweek.

Everton, very much the underdogs with a depleted if not desperate line-up, sent Abel Xavier straight in after injury to bolster the defence.  Lining up with Hughes at left-back, Watson and Weir in the centre and Poseidon at right-back, it was always going to be a struggle to hold out the attacking force of Boksic, Karembeu et al.  The blues were immediately rocked as Davey Weir left the pitch for stitches after a clash of heads and, with the defence in disarray, were left wide open as Boksic beat Xavier on the Everton right.  The cross was dangerous but Middlesbrough showed little anticipation sadly neither did Gerrard and Watson's interception gifted a poacher's goal to the Teesiders.

Everton showed little in reply the highlight in attack being the excellent running of Franny Jeffers which exposed the opposition defenders every time the ball was thrown over the top.  Everton hung on until half-time, a goal down with the side looking desperate for change.  Luckily, Everton of late are not good at holding a lead, so a deficit could only be a good thing!  Alexandersson particularly had little effect, playing in front of Hughes S on the left.  On the right flank, Xavier frequently found himself under pressure as he looked for Gravesen, pushed into the right of midfield, but found himself unsupported.

The second half saw Alexandersson switched to the right and immediately the move began to pay off.  Link-up play between Xavier, Jeffers, Gascoigne and the Swede cut the static Middlesbrough defence open time and again.  Jeffers's running off the ball showed intelligence and maturity, and Steve Watson did much to make up for his first-half blunder as he operated as the free man in a 4-3-3 attacking formation.  

Hughes was reliable as ever, holding and laying the ball off effectively.  Inevitably Jeffers found himself clear after link-ups with Gazza and Alexandersson, and working well on the right looked up as if to cross.  A powerful shot beat the keeper and stuck in the far corner of the net.  Middlesbrough, as for several seasons past, are a side with a few talented individuals surrounded by donkeys such as Stamp and Vickers.  Until Robson builds a real 'backbone' they will be there for the taking.

Suddenly, the tiring Gravesen, Gascoigne and at times anonymous Nyarko saw light.  Everton sliced the Boro' side open with ease and Gascoigne could have scored as he found himself beaten by the extra yard of pace only a touch was needed to slide the ball under Schwarzer.  Jeffers was eventually played through with an identical ball to the first, and striking low, he followed up on a goal line clearance to score a second.  The away support erupted as Everton stole the game.  Campbell another playing his first game after a long comeback from injury replacing Nyarko, should have added a third as he beat two defenders and forced a point-blank save from the keeper.  His lack of an edge was obvious his potential frightening.

In defence, Weir remained cool and Xavier was never phased by the waves of counter attacks.  Stephen Hughes on the left, like Collins the season before, suddenly began to fulfill potential playing out of position.  Gravesen harried and chased ensuring that he maintained authority over Stamp and Ince.

After the final whistle, Campbell showed his true colours as he called the team over to thank the fans.  They did this with pleasure, and even the apparently want-away Xavier seemed to have found his spiritual home as he kissed the shirt and yelled some unintelligables in Portugese.  If there is a chance of the bearded one staying, it is up to the blue faithful to keep him he is an asset to our squad and a vital team member.  If he IS playing for a move, he is at least going about it the right way giving his all to the team and showing some true class.

Walter will find a glut of defenders available to him for the home game with Man Utd.  But he will do well to consider the effort and commitment shown by these players who, despite the odds being against them for much of the game, showed the spirit and character which carried them to victory at the Riverside.  Perhaps he will also look at conceding an early goal as a masterplan for taking three points from the Champions!  

Again, Everton proved to be a group of individuals with talent and brains, but who are yet to develop into a team injury problems and out-of-position players will make this development slower still.  But we have the talent to beat any side on our day, and that day has got to come sooner rather than later perhaps next weekend?  Hmmm....

A word to Jimmy 'Five Bellies' if you ever sound your horn at me so that you can jump a massive queue of traffic again I will make sure that our collision is in the News of The World the next day  Stay away from our matches and our players you overweight arse.  (Did anybody see whether Gazza was the passenger?)
  


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 He's an African!
Mark Staniford
 
An injury-ravaged Blues side claimed a deserved three points at the Riverside despite getting off to the worst possible of starts.  

The 'flamboyant-looking' Abel Xavier came in to the defence at right back for his first game of the season and it wasn't long before he was affording Boro acres of space down their left side.  Standing a good 3 ft away from Boksic, he allowed the Croat to fire in a harmless-looking cross which hapless Geordie, Steve Watson turned into his own net in his desperation to clear his lines.  

David Weir was off the field at the time, receiving treatment for a head wound as the Blues defensive line looked more like a midfield compromising Steven Hughes, Thomas Gravesen, Abel Xavier and Steve Watson.  In fact, it reminded me a little of a game at Blackburn a couple of seasons back, except that night our midfield was made up of defenders!!  

On 16 minutes, Jeffers should have tied the scores up as he ran clean through on goal, having been released by Gravesen.  Unfortunately, the ball was on his weaker left side and his low shot was easily parried by Schwarzer.  Boro came again and again down the Everton right side, spotting the huge spaces that Xavier was leaving for them to run into.  Even when he did attempt a tackle, he was invariably made a fool of, with the Boro players ghosting past him as if he wasn't there. 

Everton had chances too, with Mark Hughes striking the foot of the post after a superb dummy by Gazza gave him a good opportunity.  Gerrard had to be at his best saving well from Paul Ince on 21 minutes and Phil Stamp was making a nuisance of himself, aided by Boksic.

Walter made some tactical switches at half time, swapping Alexandersson over from the left to his more favoured right side; this enabled the Swede to get more involved.  With the Blues increasingly dominant, it was Gravesen again who released Jeffers on the hour and this time the England Under-21 star made no mistake, his half-volley nestling in the bottom right corner of Schwarzer's net. 

Gascoigne and Gravesen now had a grip on the midfield with Ince and the disappointing Karembeu proving ineffective.  Nyarko too had the away fans practicing their new 'Neeeeeearko' chant (to the tune of Volare) but it might take a few more games before they can decide which part is the first verse, the 'He is an African' or the 'He plays for Everton' line!!!!! 

The movement which had been so disappointing by the Blues (Jeffers excepted) in the first half stepped up as Walter sensed that the three points were there for the taking.  A chance opened up for Gravesen but he shot just wide.  

Yet again, Everton's right-hand side was left exposed by Xavier finding himself well out of position up field and it was only a superb last-ditch tackle that denied Job a clear shot on goal.  If he is looking for a move, he's going to have to play a bit better than this!  His passing was at times abysmal, his positioning was terrible and his tackling was, well, non existent. 

Fortunately, Watson was a rock alongside Weir at the heart of the Everton defence and patrolled Boksic, Job and later Deane and Ricard so well that Bryan Robson must have been ruing his inability to tempt him to the Riverside in the close season.  

And it just kept getting better.  The surprising inclusion of 'Super' Kevin Campbell in the first 16 saw his introduction with just 8 minutes remaining to the jubilation of the traveling fans, and to give Boro more to worry about.  However it was the vision of Gazza who played the perfect pass to Jeffers inside the area on 87 minutes which finally undid the home side. 

Having seen his first effort parried, the on-fire striker followed up and bundled the ball home right in front of his adoring fans.  

And it could have got even better with Campbell finding himself with a golden opportunity in injury time (which appeared to go on for about ten minutes).  He understandably hesitated slightly on the ball and his shot was charged down inside the 6-yd box.  

Walter Smith spotted that Boro had sent Ricard out onto the right of midfield to stretch the Blues defence and sent on Cleland to tighten things up at the back in place of the injured/knackered Nyarko.  Although it appeared at one point that Mr Smith himself was going to be playing right wing as he wandered about 10 ft onto the pitch in an attempt to ensure that his orders were being followed to the letter.  The referee's assistant having to pull him back behind the touchline!! 

All in all, a well-deserved three points with a makeshift defence and nice to see Everton coming from behind instead of the opposition.  Campbell called the other players over to the away fans after the final whistle and his elation along with Jeffers, Steve Watson and a beaming Stephen Hughes was a delight to see.  I remain unmoved by the false joy and shirt kissing antics of Xavier who has as much chance of convincing me that he loves our club as he does of convincing me that blonde is his natural hair colour.
  


   Up to Reports Index ]
 Gascoigne shows he still has gas in the tank
Steve Thomson, Electronic Telegraph
 
PAUL GASCOIGNE proved he is far from a spent force on his return to his old club Middlesbrough.  In recent times, the former England midfielder has had a habit of flattering to deceive in the early part of games before quickly running out of steam.

But here he was forming an inventive pairing with Thomas Gravesen to help inspire a stirring second-half comeback by Everton which secured their first away victory.

Walter Smith, his manager, has been at pains to insist there is still mileage left in his 33-year-old legs.  Gascoigne managed only eight games for Boro last term due to injury and stress-related problems but he stunned his former supporters by going the full distance on this occasion.  He fed the crucial pass through to Francis Jeffers, who tapped in the winner and his second goal of the game in the 86th minute after Jason Gavin had blocked his first effort on the line.

Middlesbrough, doubtless keen to erase the memory of squandering a three-goal lead at Derby in midweek, looked hungry for action from the outset.  Phil Stamp typified their assertiveness by flying in to challenge for a header with David Weir which left both of them grounded with head wounds.

Both departed for repairs and Everton's loss turned out to be the greater.  Alen Boksic had already threatened to open up their depleted defence with an astute cross from the left which the retreating Gascoigne hacked clear.

But, with the game still only six minutes old, the former Lazio striker again found space out wide, centred with the outside of his right boot and this time Steve Watson's lunge at the ball merely deposited it into the net past an astonished Paul Gerrard.

Stamp immediately scampered back on while Weir's return was delayed for a further few minutes and, not surprisingly, the visitors were struggling to launch any counter-attacks.  Home goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer's inactivity, though, was abruptly interrupted when Everton's penchant for the long ball set up Jeffers and the tall Australian stuck out one of his long legs to divert the ball for a corner.

Jeffers' veteran partner, Mark Hughes, similarly tested his reflexes with a swift turn and shot which Schwarzer athletically turned away for another flag kick.

These were brief moments of pressure from Smith's side as they continued to look out of sorts, having been on the wrong end of a thrilling comeback by Tottenham earlier in the week and, when Paul Ince seized on Watson's half-clearance, Gerrard parried his drive and was grateful to see the follow up from Joseph-Desire Job blaze over the top.

Middlesbrough's determination to keep a grip on proceedings after the break was reflected in a wild tackle on Abel Xavier by Noel Whelan, for which the 2 million signing from Coventry was booked.  Xavier again looked to be caught dwelling on the ball soon after, but his decision to avoid a panic clearance paid off spectacularly well.

He put Gravesen in possession and the sturdily-built Dane unleashed an excellent 50-yard pass into the path of Jeffers, whose crisp right-foot finish left Schwarzer clawing air.

From then on, Everton's new G-force, Gravesen and Gascoigne, were calling the tune in the middle of the park and Jeffers was the joyful beneficiary.
  

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Gazza hammers home messageLouise Taylor
by Louise Taylor, The Sunday Times
 
IT WAS hardly as if Bryan Robson had not been warned. On Friday Paul Gascoigne left a message on his former manager's mobile phone: "I'm coming to get you, gaffer - love, Gazza."

Initially it seemed laughable: Gascoigne, roundly booed on his return to Teesside, proved the weakest link in Everton's midfield. Then, four minutes from time, the memory of his litany of unforced errors was erased by a stunning pass gratefully accepted by Francis Jeffers, who registered his second goal of the afternoon.

Earlier, the plaudits had looked to be heading in the direction of Robson's Croatian signing. Alen Boksic is perhaps best described as boasting the trickery and speed of an old-fashioned winger allied to the intimidating physical presence of a traditional centre-forward.

Small wonder, then, that the richly-remunerated former Lazio striker petrified injury-riddled Everton's makeshift backline (featuring Stephen Hughes at left-back) every time he ran at them. Boksic is pretty useful at crossing, too, and it was his centre from the left that prompted an early own goal from Steve Watson, Everton's ersatz central defender hooking the ball into his net.

Not that Boro - daringly, if ultimately ineffectively, fielding three constantly rotating strikers - had a monopoly on attacking menace. In the mystifying absence of his England Under-21 colleague Andy Campbell, who disappointingly failed even to command a place on the bench, Jeffers was the paciest man on view. His acceleration spasmodically threatened Boro's hesitant back four during the first half and resulted in a goal early in the second.

Haring on to Thomas Gravesen's through pass, Jeffers found himself with only Mark Schwarzer to beat. The impressive keeper - who kept his side in the game with four outstanding saves - tried to spread himself, but the youngster remained sufficiently composed to equalise with a beautifully weighted shot from an awkward angle.

It served to revitalise Everton. Suddenly Watson looked so assured you could imagine he had played centre-half all his life, while Alex Nyarko and Gravesen were eclipsing the disconcertingly tackle-shy Christian Karembeu - who, on this timid evidence, looks a poor replacement for the dropped Robbie Mustoe - and Paul Ince in midfield.

Sensing that the game was eminently winnable, Walter Smith, Everton's manager, introduced the newly fit Kevin Campbell, and, combined with Gascoigne's pass and Jeffers's finish at the second attempt after Schwarzer's parry, the substitute's clever decoy run helped to undo Boro.

It left a thoroughly disillusioned Riverside emptying in disgust, and Robson contemplating an unsatisfactory run of one win in five games. He could probably do without any more messages from Gazza . . .
  

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Gascoigne savours mobility allowance
by Martin Woods, The Times
 
ERIC CANTONA, Bryan Robson's former Manchester United team-mate, once described Didier Deschamps, the France captain, as "the water carrier".  It is unlikely that Robson, the Middlesbrough manager, would subscribe to Cantona's view, given his appreciation of the need for a domestique in any team.  After this defeat, he could reflect on the damage inflicted on his side by this country's most unlikely candidate for such a role, Paul Gascoigne.

Robson's former charge at the Riverside Stadium won few tackles and his passing, in the words of Walter Smith, his manager, was mostly "astray", but he nevertheless covered parts of the pitch that previous versions of the player often failed to reach.  It was extraordinary.

"I've always said that when Gazza's fit and working hard he's a very good player," Robson said.  "It's something our lads have got to look at and make sure they get on top of their fitness."

While bemoaning a lack of match practice for three of his defenders, Robson was also forced to substitute a jaded-looking Paul Ince after 75 minutes.  "I just think the two games in three days caught up with him," Robson said.  Just as well, then, that European competition is merely an aspiration on Teesside.

Alen Boksic, on his home debut, soon left an imprint on the game when his seventh-minute cross was diverted home by Steve Watson, the Everton defender.  Thereafter, both Watson and David Weir fulfilled their manager's brief in denying the Croatian and Joseph-Desire Job, his striking partner, the opportunity to make further inroads into the Everton area.

It was appropriate, given Gascoigne's role, that Everton's victory was secured by two goals by Francis Jeffers that were taken with an lan more associated with French strikers.

First, he received Thomas Gravesen's lofted pass, eight minutes into the second half, and steadied himself supremely before firing into the top left-hand corner of the net.

With three minutes left, he was released by Gascoigne.  Dragging the ball inside Dean Gordon onto his left foot, his shot was first blocked on the line by Jason Gavin but Jeffers buried the rebound.
  

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd
 
 
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