Niclas the grateful

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The Independent Online

For two clubs who have lived too long in the shadow of more illustrious neighbours, the result of this testimonial for Joe Parkinson was less important than the indication it gave of their prospects of grabbing some of the limelight themselves when the Premiership campaign begins on Saturday.

For two clubs who have lived too long in the shadow of more illustrious neighbours, the result of this testimonial for Joe Parkinson was less important than the indication it gave of their prospects of grabbing some of the limelight themselves when the Premiership campaign begins on Saturday.

Conspicuous spending is the best way of keeping up with the neighbours, of course, and neither manager has been in any danger of letting his transfer kitty burn a hole in his pocket during the close season.

Of the new acquisitions on parade, Joe Royle's came with the greatest burden of expectation, but Walter Smith may prove to have the sharper eye for a bargain. Niclas Alexandersson, who abandoned ship when Sheffield Wednesday went down, did enough in 36 minutes to show that, whether or not Duncan Ferguson proves to be Everton's prodigal son, they have already found someone with a nose for goal.

The Swede's crosses from the right gave an uncertain City defence plenty to think about before he drifted inside to unhinge them twice in 15 minutes, chipping over the goalkeeper Nick Weaver and turning neatly to side-foot a second from an almost identical position on the edge of the box.

By the time he limped off with an ankle injury that may keep him out of Sweden's midweek international, Everton were already in control and other new boys were showing what they were capable of.

The former Newcastle full-back Alessandro Pistone looked poised in defence and dangerous on the break while the midfielder Alex Nyarko, signed from Racing Lens, showed a deftness of touch his gangling frame belies. But nobody would upstage Everton's best known newcomer on his Goodison debut.

Paul Gascoigne came off the bench for the second half looking slim, full of movement and demanding the ball, and made his presence felt almost at once. A surging run earned a corner, from which Nyarko put Everton further ahead with an audacious back-heel.

By now, Royle's return to Goodison had become thoroughly dispiriting. His own big-name signing, George Weah, showed a few early touches but will not thrive on such scant service, while Steve Howey's arrival from Newcastle did little to bolster a rickety rearguard. City scarcely troubled the Everton goalkeeper Paul Gerrard before the substitute Sean Wright-Phillips reduced the arrears with a header on the hour.

Royle may be ruing his failure to sign the Villa defender Ugo Ehiogu and keen to see if Paulo Wanchope, who missed this match on international duty for Costa Rica, can ignite a damp strike force. Smith said: "Alexandersson's goals showed that he can both provide and score and we are in good shape for the start of the season."

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