Yakubu rescues point for Everton
Everton 1 Middlesbrough 1: Ayegbeni Yakubu scored against his former club to stretch Everton's unbeaten run to five games, although they will be disappointed not to have grabbed a win that would lifted them into the top six against Middlesbrough today.
Boro, who won well at Aston Villa last weekend, did not deserve to lose, however, having led for so long through an early Gary O'Neil strike.
In the end it was their old boy Yakubu who grabbed the equaliser after 68 minutes, and there was some fortune in his goal as the ball deflected off his back.
That effort just about summed up Everton's afternoon when nothing quite seemed to go right for them.
Boro had a Didier Digard effort pushed onto a post by Tim Howard, and in striker Tuncay Sanli, they had the best forward player on show.
Yakubu had returned for Everton following a heel injury, while record signing Marouane Fellaini was also recalled after serving his one-match suspension.
Middlesbrough had not won in the league at Goodison Park since 2000, and made one change from the side that beat Aston Villa last weekend. Julio Arca came in for Jeremie Aliadiere.
Everton pressed early with some effect through Leon Osman and Phil Neville on the right, but were stunned by a Boro goal after just eight minutes.
Tuncay had seen one 20-yard effort go wide before an astute Stewart Downing pass exploited yards of space down the right flank.
Joleon Lescott had been sucked into the middle, and there was O'Neil to run into the box and fire low past Howard.
Tuncay sent another effort over the crossbar, again from a Downing pass, before Yakubu almost pulled Everton level.
He muscled his way past Emanuel Pogatetz on the edge of the box, but Ross Turnbull saved well as the striker's feet.
Lescott almost made amends for his earlier error when his swirling cross from the left hit the far post after 23 minutes.
The ball dropped invitingly for Fellaini, six yards out, but his hooked effort was blocked almost on the line by Pogatetz.
Tuncay was proving a real handful as Boro continually looked dangerous on the break against a surprisingly uncertain Everton defence.
Everton's responses were confined to set-plays, mainly Mikel Arteta corners. Phil Jagielka and Tim Cahill, twice, had near-post headers that went close, before Yobo rose to meet a Neville cross, his header just clearing the crossbar.
Boro lost Chris Riggott with an injured ankle after 51 minutes, David Wheater taking over.
And a minute later Boro almost caught Everton on the break when Alves and Tuncay raced away, the ball eventually finding Arca, but he hooked his shot over the crossbar.
Then Osman held off both Justin Hoyte and Wheater before drilling a low shot straight at Turnbull.
Everton had upped their tempo by now, and a fine move involving Arteta and Neville ended with a cross that saw Louis Saha send a fierce header just over.
Digard was then booked for a trip on Arteta and when the little Basque midfielder fired over the free-kick, Yakubu claimed a 65th-minute equaliser, the ball deflecting in off his back.
Boro responded with a Digard shot that Howard pushed onto a post. Pogatetz was then booked for a foul on Yakubu, before Adam Johnson replaced Arca.
Everton sent on Steven Pienaar for Osman with 18 minutes left, with Boro sending on Marvin Emnes for Alves after 84 minutes.
Anichebe took over from Tim Cahill soon afterwards, with James Vaughan then replacing Yakubu. But no manner of pack shuffling could give Everton more than a point.