Gerard Deulofeu produced two moments of magic, scoring one and setting up another for Romelu Lukaku as Everton reached the last four in comfort
Ok, that’s it from them and that’s it from me, too. Thanks for your emails and to the smattering of you who sent in penpal recollections. I overshared there and have courted office ridicule because of it. Take care, see you again soon.
Everton are through to the semi-finals! They deserved it, they were comfortable. That lovely goal and assist from Deulofeu were the difference; Boro huffed and puffed, and pressed Everton into some second-half sloppiness, but Stuani’s header over was their only real opening and they never really looked like changing the game’s complexion. Not a classic, then, but a couple of moments that were well worth watching.
90+4 min: Late Boro pressure but a Forshaw cross is cleared by Barry. Naismith leads a counterattacking charge but Amorebieta foils that and there won’t be much more action here.
90+2 min: Some sort of flare seems to have gone off on one side of the pitch. It is literally exactly like watching a match on the continent. Everton have a free kick but Baines crosses above Funes Mori.
90+1 min: It is now Man City 4-1 Hull, for what it’s worth. Four extra minutes at the Riverside.
90 min: This is one for a right-footer, so Leadbitter rather than Downing, and it’s hit hard and low but right down the throat of Robles.
89 min: Stones is booked for giving a free kick away in a shooting position 30 yards out....
89 min: “All mere punctuation – AFTER SATURDAY????” asks Steve Higginson, who I assume is still picking himself off the Dean Court turf.
87 min: Nsue, who has been good this half, crosses well from the right and Stones gets in well to avert danger. Robles, with a punch, completes the clearance.
86 min: Lukaku goes off now, Naismith on.
85 min: Better from Mirallas now – a first-time shot from 20 yards that Mejias parried, the rebound being spirited away from Lukaku.
84 min: Something could in fact have happened there, as Mirallas got away on the left and should really have passed to an unmarked Lukaku. The chance went away.
83 min: George Friend comes on for Boro, replacing Ben Gibson. It’s all mere punctuation, now: little more will happen here.
82 min: Kevin de Bruyne has made it 3-0 to Man City. Iheanacho scored the second.
81 min: Mirallas on and Deulofeu, probably the matchwinner here, off. The Spaniard is booed off by the home fans for his involvement in the incident with Ayala.
80 min: Baines, a prominent figure since his arrival, makes a trademark foray down the left and wins a free kick outside the box. He’s been very chatty in the last few minutes and keeps up his dialogue with the ref. Then he delivers the set-piece .. but Ayala heads out and Barkley is well off beam with a subsequent shot from 25 yards.
79 min: Man City are beating Hull 2-0 now, and Stoke are also two up against Sheffield Wednesday. This means all three Championship hopefuls are two down.
77 min: A loose Funes Mori touch inside the area gives Kike some encouragement but the defender recovers. Then, down the other end, Deulofeu goes down theatrically after a tangle with Ayala, who – hang on, I’ve just seen a replay – elbowed him in the face there! Baines isn’t happy and gets himself a celebratory return yellow card for dissent! Ayala definitely merited some sort of card, and perhaps Deulofeu’s dramatics spared him one.
76 min: That is ... errrr ... not a good first touch of the game from Adomah. Kike finds him in space on the right, just outside the area, and although he has to scamper for it he has time to control and pick out a cross. Instead he takes a wild swipe and behind the goal it flies.
74 min: Leighton Baines is back! He replaces Galloway to make his first appearance of the season after that bad ankle injury. Boro make a change too – Clayton comes off and the winger Albert Adomah is on. Immediately, Forshaw shoots at Robles from 25 yards.
72 min: Galloway and Deulofeu team up really well to stop Stuani getting away down the right, at the expense of a corner. It flicks off a defender’s head and Nsue puts the second ball in, but the danger is clear for now.
70 min: Big chance for Stuani! Boro work the ball patiently to Nsue on the right and Stuani, seven yards out, is totally unmarked. The delivery is probably *just* too high for it to be a sitter – Stuani has to really get up and stretch for it – and he loops the header narrowly over. But it’s their best opportunity yet and he might have done better.
68 min: Boro’s pressing remains good and they’ve forced Everton into a number of errors in possession since half-time. They can’t really get behind them though, and it’s a lot of effort expended for not much so far.
66 min: No, wasn’t a penalty (and it was Funes Mori, not Galloway). Shoulder, not arm.
65 min: Big handball shout from Boro after Nsue wins the ball on the edge of the box and looks to dink Kike through. It certainly struck Galloway somewhere, preventing it from achieving its object, and the crowd aren’t happy – but it was at pretty close range and, in any case, I’d have to see it again.
64 min: Everton haven’t done a lot going forward of late, but Osman slots Barkley in on the edge of the area and Clayton – maybe Boro’s best player today, in all – is back well to deflect his shot over. The flag kick, like all the others, is of little consequence.
62 min: Stuani loses his footing after intercepting a casual pass from Stones, who has looked a bit sloppy this half.
61 min: Forshaw finds Downing, who slide-rules a first-time cross towards the penalty spot but Funes Mori does well. Good spell for Boro but you sense they’ll need to make it count.
60 min: Stuani is a “busy” kind of player but more hustle and bustle than guile. Boro need a bit of both now.
59 min: Downing warms Robles’ palms! Barry stops Stuani in his tracks but the ball falls perfectly onto Downing’s left foot. He thwacks one towards goal with venom and Robles has to palm over. The corner comes to nought.
56 min: “Shoooooooooot!” urge the crowd as Clayton picks the ball up 30 yards out. They replace the O with an I as he scuffs well wide.
55 min: Stones get a little lucky, making a heavy touch under scant pressure and giving the ball away dangerously. Fortunately for him, Forshaw had clipped him and Roger East gives a free kick.
53 min: Coleman, fairly quiet tonight, makes a determined go for the byline but his cross deflects off the covering Forshaw and Mejias collects.
52 min: Everton dominating possession but a bit raggedly as Boro have pressed well early on in the half. Galloway slices one out of play. But there’s no immediate danger.
50 min: Leadbitter takes but Ayala, charging in, fouls Barry and a free kick is given.
49 min: Leadbitter whacks one from range and it flicks off Stones – I think – for a corner...
48 min: Simon Gill wonders – “I am scrutinising the picture of Romelu Lukaku in your MBM and can’t for the life of me see where the pressure or Vinnie/Gazza references fit in; the defender seems to be behind him and in no contact at all. Do I have a different photo from you, perhaps, or an eyesight problem?”
Helpful hint, Simon – it’s all about the hand in the crotch.
47 min: Deulofeu is sent tumbling by Amorebieta – he ain’t having no more stepovers! – and the defender is yellow carded.
And Boro have made a change, the pretty invisible Carlos de Pena replaced by Everton old boy Adam Forshaw. I smell a fairytale!
@NickAmes82 Was that what you call a 'Happy End' for Lukaku?
He seemed pleased to score.
Actually, I’m not sure that’s of his goal – but either way, it’s a novel marking method even if it’s not quite Vinnie Jones on Gazza.
A few people pointing out that – as evidenced by the picture above – Lukaku scored his goal under considerable “pressure”.
Now the first half’s done, another penpal reminiscence – and indeed a snapshot of history – from Andrew Bridges:
“I had an East German pen-pal, Joachim, whom I met while servicing for a team on a rally in then Czechoslovakia (interesting enough under Russian rule, especially when the first vehicles we met when crossing the border from Germany was a column of Russian tanks forcing us to drive off the road to avoid them!). We kept in touch for a number of years and one Christmas he tried to send me a sprig from his family’s Christmas tree, only to have it intercepted and returned with a suitably admonishing letter by East German customs!”
It’s not been a thrill a minute, but the two pieces of magic we’ve had have both come from the irrepressible Deulofeu. First, he contrived a solo goal from next to nothing; then, he flummoxed Amorebieta and crossed perfectly for Lukaku’s header – which was, by the way, excellent too. Everton are firmly in command; Boro haven’t been bad at all but it’s hard to see them creating many clear chances. Downing came close from a free kick though and Kike wasn’t far off with a chip. So you never know...
45 min: There’ll be a minute of added time to play out.
44 min: Downing has another go, from more ambitious range than earlier, and it’s not bad but still goes high and wide.
43 min: Lukaku threatens to break free for a moment but Ayala dispossesses him authoritatively. Then Stuani wins a free-kick 30 yards out...
42 min: Everton playing some nice one-touch stuff around the midfield without feeling the urge to get too far. A few “ole” from their fans. Boro haven’t had the ball for a while.
40 min: Kike, who has been lively, shoots pointlessly from a silly position well outside the area and it’s off target.
@NickAmes82 Re Mr Mannering, I'm just happy to see these gifted young players in Everton shirts. They'll be inconsistent, but I don't mind.
39 min: Applause as the busy Clayton nips in to foil a Barkley ball towards Lukaku, but mild groans as Stuani, having counters quickly, drags a tame shot well off target.
37 min: Nearly from Kike! It comes after a Stuani run through the middle. He seems to have overrun it but Funes Mori’s challenge is weak and allows him to find Kike. He’s bearing down on the penalty area and cries to chip Robles ... but it drifts just wide of the far post.
36 min: Joshua Reynolds takes up tonight’s emerging theme – “As a Stoke supporter I will take as many Barcelona cast offs as they want to send us. I’m assuming Evertonians feel much the same.”
35 min: Stuani receives from Clayton inside the area and flashes a low cross-shot from an angle, but Robles dives and holds.
34 min: That’s a lovely gesture. The Riverside lights up, courtesy of fans’ phones and other devices, in tribute to the popular local news presenter, Ali Brownlee, who has recently been diagnosed with cancer. His name rings around the stadium. We wish him all the very best.
33 min: Robert Mannering offers his take on Deulofeu – “If Barcelona don’t have space for Pedro, chances are they don’t have room for Gerry. Hard to see him unseating Neymar or Suarez at the moment although who knows wha tthings will look like in a year or two. It’s your Uniteds or Chelseas or Arsenals who seem to be in need of his services at the moment. That said though, it is a remarkable crop of talent that seems to have been unloaded on our doorstep all of a sudden and I really feel that this team has to break through to the next level if we’re to harvest anything out of all this.”
32 min: Stoke are beating Sheffield Wednesday. It was Ibrahim Afellay’s doing.
31 min: Feels like a long way back for Boro now. Hit it hammer and tongs in a bid to overturn this or keep it steady before the Ipswich game on Friday?
Deulofeu is at it again! Barkley picks him out with a lovely crossfield ball and he is faced by Amorebieta. A bewildering array of stepovers later and he’s sped past the left-back, clipping in a perfect cross that Lukaku, who still has lots to do, heads superbly into the far corner at the near post. He had to move backwards, off his marker Gibson, and really flick his neck onto that – fine header and superb creation.
27 min: Clayton tries to drive forwards but Cleverley is back well to dispossess the midfielder. That goal has calmed down a previously loud Riverside.
@NickAmes82 I'm torn between the immediate payoff of Everton losing today, or a crushing gegenpress humiliation in the final against LFC.
Looks like the latter, at the moment.
25 min: Everton playing a bit of keep-ball now. Conveniently timed goal, that, as Boro were looking competitive.
24 min: Can you keep Deulofeu though, Evertonians? Won’t Barca grab him back?
23 min: That was great from Deulofeu, although one of two of the challenges on him could maybe have been a little more convincing. He’s so hard to stop when in full, tricky flow though. The Everton fans are in full voice and, unlike on Saturday, they’ve opted against invading the pitch.
How about that! It’s the in-form Deulofeu, who picks the ball up centrally 10 yards inside the Boro half, drives into space, twists past two men and then, shaping to go to the goalkeeper’s left, slots a lovely 20-yard finish to his right and into the bottom corner! A piece of quality from absolutely nothing.
19 min: I knew there were others. Jeremy Boyce is one of them:
“I had a French pen friend years ago. He was sh*t hot at skiing and all that stuff (smoking, mopeds, arrogance...) over there, but when he came here he learned cricket. Couldn’t do bowling, but incredible hand-eye etceteras and slaughtered all my best leg-knobbling Andy Roberts-styled efforts. No pads either!”
18 min: Close for Boro! Downing has men in the box but curls one towards the near post and Robles is across very well to paw it round for a corner. From that, the ball ends up in the net as Stuani challenges Robles ... and there’s little argument about that.
17 min: Funes Mori bodychecks Stuani in a very dangerous position on the right of the box....
16 min: Deulofeu threads a ball down the right for Lukaku but it’s just too far ahead of him. Good spot, but it’s that kind of game so far. Not too much flow.
15 min: Boro win a corner now, as Downing is found by a quick throw-in and, from near the left byline, fizzes in a half-volleyed cross that Stones puts behind. The corner is put in by Leadbitter but goes above Amorebieta and out.
13 min: Man City are a goal up against Hull – Wilfried Bony with the opener.
11 min: Barkley’s corner goes beyond everyone, and out.
11 min: A flicker from Boro, Amorebieta getting away down the left too easily and Kike, likewise, evading Stones with minimum of fuss. But he doesn’t have much support and Robles gets to the ball. Then Lukaku breaks down the inside left and crosses, but nobody is there either. And then! Deulofeu crosses, it’s deflected off Amorebieta and evades Lukaku ... corner.
9 min: You can’t tell me that it was unusual to have penpals. I’m 32 so we were saying, what, mid-1990s?
8 min: Everton win a corner and go close from it. Barkley puts it in from the right and it’s headed across ... Lukaku just can’t get his head onto it right in front of goal. It’s smuggled behind for another flag kick but that one comes to nothing,
@NickAmes82 You had pen-pals? That's amazing!
Amazing that I had penpals or amazing that I had penpals?
6 min: Quiet beginnings here really, although you can see how Boro keep things so tight at home. Swarming around Lukaku and company whenever the ball gets near the edge of their area.
3 min: Sharp start from Boro but Clayton is pulled up for fouling Osman, although he thinks he’s won it fairly.
2 min: The Riverside always looks a bit dark and gloomy during evening games, doesn’t it? Low-wattage bulbs?
1 min: Gibson aims for the forward, Kike, with a diagonal ball straightaway but it’s got too much on it and Robles gathers.
Boro get us underway, shooting from left to right if you’re the type who likes imagining matches as they’re seen on telly.
The teams are walking out. It is almost time!
2 - Middlesbrough's last two League Cup ties against Premier League opposition have ended in a penalty shootout (W1 L1). Drama.
You know, I love this job, and I do hope we get an exciting game tonight, but...
Middlesbrough have not conceded in their last six home games, by the way. That’s impressive. The one thing I’m not so sure about is whether Karanka knows how to get the best from his attackers – he has plenty of expensive ones but I’m yet to really see him get the blend right. Fair, Boro fans?
“Looking at Everton’s team is almost like watching Spain, the names roll of your tongue – Funes Mori, Joel Rubles, Gerard Deulofeu alongside exotic ones like John Stones and Gareth Barry,” observes Ezra Finkelstein, who is laudably intent on keeping this football-related.
I still want to hear your extraordinarily wacky penpal tales, but it would be remiss not to mention that there are two other quarter-finals taking place tonight. They are Man City v Hull and Stoke v Sheff Weds. I’ll try and keep you updated. Southampton play Liverpool tomorrow.
Did you ever have a penpal? Tell us about your penpal. Do the kids today still have them?
I had penpals from Belarus and Detroit. Привет Андрей and hello, Holly – assuming you’re both reading.
Did you know that, long before meeting in person, tonight’s Spanish managers – Aitor Karanka and Roberto Martinez – were penpals? Cute, eh? Louise Taylor has more:
In November 2013, when Karanka embarked on life as Middlesbrough’s manager, a letter was waiting for him on his training ground desk. It was handwritten and from his Everton counterpart and fellow Spaniard.
“On my first day Roberto sent me a letter to say welcome and congratulations,” said Karanka, whose second-placed Championship side are at home to Martínez’s Everton in a Capital One Cup quarter-final on Tuesday night.
Everton start everyone from Saturday except for James McCarthy, Arouna Kone and Tim Howard. Leighton Baines is back on the bench, in what is definitely a timely boost. Middlesbrough have, perhaps more predictably, made six changes.
Middlesbrough: Mejias, Nsue, Ayala, Gibson, Amorebieta, Stuani, Leadbitter, Clayton, De Pena, Downing, Kike. Subs: Agazzi, Friend, Stephens, Adomah, Forshaw, Nugent, Zuculini.
Everton: Robles, Galloway, Funes Mori, Stones, Coleman, Barry, Osman, Cleverley, Barkley, Deulofeu, Lukaku. Subs: Howard, Baines, Gibson, Kone, Mirallas, Lennon, Naismith.
It’s the first of December. It’s now just about ok for you to mention Christmas without deserving to be shunned by right-thinking members of society. The football season remains relatively young but there are already prizes to be (nearly) won: in the next couple of days we’ll be down to just four – FOUR – League Cup contenders and two of them are the foci of our love and affection tonight. Boro v Everton could be something of a cracker, and whoever gets through this will fancy their chances in what looks a winnable competition for pretty much all involved.
Nick will be here shortly. While you wait, here is Andy Hunter on why Everton have a golden chance of success in this season’s Capital One Cup campaign as they head to Middlesbrough in the quarter-final.
The question left no room for manoeuvre and Roberto Martínez, in fairness, responded in kind. “Will Everton step up or break up this season?” he was asked. “We have to achieve,” he replied. That process continues in the quarter-final of the Capital One Cup at Middlesbrough on Tuesday and Martínez has not disguised the importance of the occasion to the development of his young team.
Everton and achievement have never been acquainted in the League Cup. Twice beaten finalists, their record since losing to Chelsea in the 2008 semi-finalsunderlines why supporters are wary of the competition that offers the shortest route to silverware – Everton have managed five third-round exits and two defeats in round four.