Football: Jeffers saves Everton blushes

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The Independent Online
EVERTON WILL have to do better than they did last night when they come up against the other half of Manchester when the Premier League opens for them in 11 days.

Starting with what is likely to be the side that faces champions United on Sunday week, Everton were anything but impressive despite beating City 1-0 in a testimonial for John Ebbrell, who has been forced to retire with ankle problems.

City came out of the game with more to be happier about, despite losing to a first-half goal by Francis Jeffers. Lacking six of the players who helped them to play-off victory at Wembley in May, Joe Royle's side worked hard and passed well.

Everton spent much of the first half in defence but scored a fine goal when Jeffers drilled a shot from the edge of the box.

Another side who struggled in the Premiership last season, Southampton, lost out to Belgian side Lierse after missing a hatful of late chances at the Dell. Marians Pahars missed a hat-trick of opportunities in the final five minutes after Jurgen Cavens had put the Belgian Cup holders into the lead.

Newcastle stuttered to a 2-1 win at Stoke City as Paul Robinson scored his third goal in four games. The former Darlington trainee struck after 68 minutes after Frenchman Franck Dumas and City defender Anders Jacobson both scored first-half goals.

Tottenham look likely to start the season with Steffen Iversen as their only fit striker as Chris Armstrong is still recovering from an operation and Les Ferdinand has an ankle injury. At least Iversen is in fine form, taking his scoring record to nine in four games as Tottenham drew 2-2 with QPR. His seventh-minute shot went in off Matthew Rose, and though QPR fought back with a Gavin Peacock penalty and a Rob Steiner goal, Iversen knocked in Mark Gower's cross 16 minutes from the end.

Leeds sent out a pre-season warning to the Premiership with a 5-0 win at Huddersfield. Once Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink scored shortly after the half-hour, the result was never in doubt.

Liverpool flew out to Norway yesterday for today's friendly against Valerenga without Vladimir Smicer. The Czech striker has been left behind on Merseyside to recover from food poisoning. One player on the mend is Michael Owen, though yesterday he said he would not rush back. The England striker flew to Norway but will only engage in light training as he continues treatment on the injury that has dogged him since April.

His treatment programme, set out by German specialist Dr Hans Muller- Wohlfahrt, is being overseen by Liverpool's club doctor Mark Waller. Owen said: "I will be guided all the way by the experts, even though every player loves to be involved in the opening day of the season."