Middlesbrough 2 Everton 1: Southgate improves job security

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The Independent Football

It remains to be seen whether Gareth Southgate will be obliged to seek alternative employment, such as endorsing the delights of the Deep Pan Hawaiian pizza. For the time being, though, as Middlesbrough's manager in situ, he can reflect on a marginally more impressive start to his favoured career than Steve McClaren made in the same job five years ago.

Southgate's long-term future as Middlesbrough manager has yet to be confirmed by the Premier League. Despite the exception made for Glenn Roeder, there is no guarantee that Boro's chosen man will be granted official approval to continue in the job when his 12-week dispensation period expires next month.

Still, Southgate looked the part at the Riverside on Saturday, patrolling the touchline with the same studious air as Roeder, prompting his players to a vital victory and gently defusing potential controversy afterwards. Asked about a mobile phone thrown towards Mark Schwarzer, apparently from the direction of the visiting supporters, he suggested: "Perhaps they should have thrown a watch for the referee."

The contest had run into a ninth minute of overtime before Mark Halsey's whistle confirmed win No 2 for Southgate, to set alongside a 2-1 victory against Chelsea at the Riverside in August. Back in 2001, McClaren enjoyed two wins in his first eight Premiership matches as a managerial novice with Middlesbrough. His intended replacement, however, has gathered one point more: eight in total.

For the three collected on Saturday, Southgate had to thank the persistence and staying power his players - and the daily double training sessions he has been conducting to improve their stamina.

His team had to withstand 20 minutes of Everton domination in the opening and closing stages. In between, though, Middlesbrough had David Moyes' hitherto unbeaten side on the ropes at times, after Yakubu Aiyegbeni had turned the tide from the penalty spot courtesy of a clumsy Tim Howard challenge on the big Nigerian.

Yakubu had a second penalty saved before featuring in the slick Middlesbrough move that led to Mark Viduka making it 2-0 in the 71st minute. Tim Cahill, dynamically influential despite his 12,500 mile return trip from international duty in Sydney, halved the deficit for Everton six minutes later, but the match-winner proved to be the Socceroo who had been granted paternal leave to stay back in England.

Not that Viduka felt fully refreshed following the arrival of a baby son. "I've been up all hours," he said. "I was up at two o'clock with my wife last night. Maybe that's the secret; a lack of sleep."

Goals: Yakubu pen (26) 1-0; Viduka (71) 2-0; Cahill (77) 2-1.

Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Davies, Huth, Pogatetz, Taylor; Cattermole (Parnaby, 83), Boateng, Euell, Downing (Arca, 90); Viduka, Yakubu. Substitutes not used: Turnbull (gk), Rochemback, Maccarone.

Everton (4-4-2): Howard; Hibbert (Beattie, 33), Lescott, Yobo, Valente (Van der Meyde, 90); Davies (McFadden, 75), Neville, Carsley, Arteta; Cahill, Johnson. Substitutes not used: Wright (gk), Weir.

Referee: M Halsey (Lancashire).

Booked: Middlesbrough Cattermole.

Man of the match: Cahill.

Attendance: 27,156.