Dogs of war meet match in Emerson

Everton 1 Middlesbrough 2

Some victories have a symbolic value over and above the three points they generate. The jubilation of the Middlesbrough players and supporters suggested this was such an occasion.

Goodison Park was where it began going pear-shaped for Middlesbrough halfway through last season. Fifth in the Premiership and boasting its best defensive record, they were overrun 4-0 by Everton. The next 10 games produced a solitary point, a sequence which convinced Bryan Robson of the need to re-invent his side during the summer.

Just five of the 14 on duty in the December debacle took part as Boro scaled a psychological barrier by winning away for only the second time all year. Moreover, they did it - under the gaze of Glenn Hoddle and at the end of a week when the shortcomings of British huff and puff were again laid bare in Europe - by trusting in skill and mobility.

Nick Barmby, the antithesis of the battering-ram striker, scored their first and made the second for the waif-like Juninho. Hauled off on his first trip to Goodison, the latter now struck to secure only their fourth win in 44 visits. Yet it was the performance of another supposed South American softy, Emerson, that proved the real difference between two unexceptional sides.

When the Middlesbrough line-up was peppered with the dour names of hard men like Craggs and Boam, Maddren and Spraggon, buying a Brazilian would have been tantamount to signing a Martian. As the third from that country to join in a matter of months, in a deal overshadowed by Fabrizio Ravanelli's arrival, Emerson's welcome was almost blase. Attitudes are changing fast.

His touch is as you would expect of a son of Rio de Janiero. Faced with the so-called "Dogs of War", the dreadlocked 24-year-old also showed a facility for the physical dimension which bodes well for the winter. "His all-round ability is outstanding," the Middlesbrough manager said of his pounds 4m recruit from Portugal. "The few times I saw him play for Porto he dictated the pace of the game.

It was the same story here, at least in the second half, when Emerson imposed a rhythm on Middlesbrough's ground-level attacks which contrasted starkly with Everton's tendency to look for Duncan Ferguson's head. However, when Craig Short headed home inside 10 minutes - exactly as he had on Boxing Day - things looked bleak for the visitors.

Suddenly, Barmby was racing clear to lob Neville Southall for his first club goal since January. The former Tottenham striker, with a back-heeled pass out of the Hoddle manual, also set up Juninho for his fourth goal in six games, already double last season's tally.

"It all hinged on little incidents," a perplexed Joe Royle said, citing Andy Hinchcliffe's cross-shot inches wide immediately before Barmby struck. And three minutes before the winner Alan Miller made a brilliant reflex save to stop one of several towering headers by Ferguson.

Middlesbrough have now won three in a row; Everton have lost the last three. For all Royle's bafflement, the lack of midfield guile is transparent, the dependence on power outmoded. A Coca-Cola Cup home leg against Second Division opponents on Wednesday provides a chance to break the spell, but York City will be inspired by the memory of last September's crushing defeat of Manchester United.

On the subject of lightning striking again, five bookings in a game bereft of malice took Paul Danson to 19 yellow cards and one red in four Premiership fixtures. The referee had Gary Speed's name after two minutes - for flattering to deceive, one cynic suggested - and issued cautions as if on commission until half-time. After that, of course, Emerson was running the show.

Goals: Short (8) 1-0; Barmby (61) 1-1; Juninho (81) 1-2.

Everton (4-4-2): Southall; Barrett, Short, Unsworth, Hinchcliffe; Kanchelskis, Ebbrell, Parkinson, Speed; Branch (Stuart, 56), Ferguson. Substitutes not used: Rideout, Hottiger, Grant, Gerrard (gk).

Middlesbrough: (5-2-1-2) Miller; Cox, Whyte, Vickers, Whelan, Fleming; Mustoe, Emerson; Juninho; Barmby, Ravanelli. Substitutes not used: Moore, Hendrie, Stamp, Branco, Roberts (gk).

Referee: P Danson (Leicester). Attendance: 39,250.

Bookings: Everton: Speed, Hinchcliffe, Unsworth; Middlesbrough: Vickers, Mustoe.

Man of the match: Emerson.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - 3-4 Month Fixed Contract - £30-£35k pro rata

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £26,000+

£16000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed