Everton 1 Blackburn Rovers 1: McFadden makes point but Everton pine for Yakubu

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The Independent Online

Everton spent much of the week focusing on the results of a fans' poll which came down narrowly in favour of the club relocating to Kirkby, outside the city boundaries. Yet it is a new striker, rather than a fancy stadium, which is of more pressing concern and Yakubu Aiyegbeni's arrival from Middlesbrough cannot come soon enough on the evidence of yesterday's display.

The Toffees were eventually spared a second successive defeat when James McFadden cancelled out Roque Santa Cruz's first-half opener, but will eagerly await work permit clearance to allow the record £11.25m signing of the Nigerian to go through this week.

Blackburn almost pinched the points in a dramatic finale to an ordinary game as David Bentley's free-kick was tipped on to the bar by the Everton keeper, Tim Howard, but they will settle for a hard-earned point and remain unbeaten.

A minute's applause was observed before the game in memory of Rhys Jones, the 11-year-old schoolboy and Everton fan who was murdered in the city on Wednesday. Applause rather than silence was the choice of his parents and older brother, Melanie, Stephen and Owen, who stood alongside David Moyes on the touchline during the tribute.

Moyes had rubbished Arsène Wenger's claims that Blackburn were overly physical, yet the visitors had lost none of their bite and had Andre Ooijer booked after six minutes for crashing through McFadden.

Andrew Johnson, who is still searching for his first goal of the season, tested Brad Friedel with a shot from the edge of the area and a free-kick from Alan Stubbs also brought a good save from the American.

However, Everton lacked craft and Rovers began to boss the game, with David Dunn running the midfield and Santa Cruz leading the line excellently.

The Paraguayan striker, a £3.8million buy from Bayern Munich, put Mark Hughes' team ahead with his second goal of the season after a quarter of an hour when he reacted first to the loose ball after Morten Gamst Pedersen had struck the Everton bar with an overhead kick. "People are starting to see what a talent he is," said Hughes afterwards.

Soon Leighton Baines, who was given his debut after a £5m move from Wigan, cleared Christopher Samba's header off the line and Howard produced a full-stretch save from Dunn. Moyes changed things around, bringing on £4m midfielder Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott, who was left out amid reports of a rift with his manager.

Jagielka headed narrowly wide from Johnson's cross as Everton pressed early in the second half. Anichebe was sent on and gradually his team began to assert themselves.

It wasn't pretty yet their reward came 12 minutes from the end when McFadden expertly steered home Mikel Arteta's cross from the right. Anichebe was inches from giving the home team the lead shortly afterwards as he flung himself at another Arteta centre by the far post, the Spaniard belatedly coming to life.

Ooijer's tackle kept Johnson's menace at bay late on, but the Blues were equally grateful to Howard at the other end for tipping Bentley's free-kick on to the bar, before the ball was scrambled clear.

"I thought on chances created we merited three points, but in the end we will be looking back and saying a point at Everton is a good one," said Hughes.

Moyes said: "It was a strange game. We didn't play well in the first half, but we huffed and puffed and deserved a draw."

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