Dogs of war meet match in Emerson
Everton 1 Middlesbrough 2
Monday 16 September 1996
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.
Latest in Sport
Petr Cech blasts Chelsea supporters who sent him death threats after £11m Arsenal transfer: 'They are not true fans'
Nathaniel Clyne joins Liverpool: Transfer news live - Arda Turan decision, Petr Cech reaction, Sergio Ramos to Manchester United
Christian Benteke to Liverpool: Aston Villa striker ready to reject Tottenham
Football kits 2015/16: The good, the bad and the downright worst new shirts from around the world for next season
Arda Turan announcement expected on Friday: Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United possible destinations
- 1 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 2 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 3 French woman dies in freak bungee jumping accident
- 4 Greece crisis: Crowdfunding campaign crashes Indiegogo, raises half a million in just three days
- 5 Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck to divorce and end their 10-year marriage
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...
£16000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...