Gareth Barry inspired Everton with an equalising goal on his 600th Premier League appearance as the Toffees beat Middlesbrough 3-1 at Goodison Park.
Middlesbrough took a surprise lead thanks to a controversial goal as Alvaro Negredo appeared to foul Martin Stekelenburg in bundling the ball into the net.
The early setback merely served to inspire an Everton side in a rich vein of form, Barry celebrating his landmark appearance by sweeping home with his left foot to put the home side level.
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From that moment on, Stekelenburg barely had a save to make as further first-half goals from Seamus Coleman and Romelu Lukaku completed a professional performance.
Victory puts Everton second in the table, only two points behind Manchester City. Middlesbrough remain 11th although from this fairly toothless display, it already looks like a long season for Aitor Karanka’s side.
Should Boro’s goal have been awarded? Opinion seems divided but it appeared a foul on the keeper as Negredo went up for a header. Everton fans may note a similar goal scored in a certain FA Cup final in 1984.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Gareth Barry (Everton). OK, this may be a sentimental shout but also a performance worthy of the award. Turned the tide in Everton’s favour with his equaliser and worked tirelessly to win key balls and set his side on the front foot until leaving to a standing ovation with a minute remaining.
Everton: Stekelenburg 6, Coleman 7, Jagielka 6, Williams 6, Baines 6, Gueye 7, Barry 8, Mirallas 6, Barkley 7, Bolasie 7, Lukaku 7. Subs: Cleverley 6, Valencia 6, Deilofeu 6.
Middlesbrough: Valdes 5, Barragan 6, Ayala 6, Gibson 6, Friend 7, de Roon 6, Forshaw 6, Nsue 5, Ramirez 7, Downing 6, Negredo 6. Subs: Clayton 6, Nugent 6, Fischer 6.
21’ – GOAL! EVERTON 0-1 MIDDLESBROUGH: A controversial start as Negredo is awarded the opener despite appearing to foul Stekelenburg in challenging for the ball. It goes down as and OG for the keeper.
24’ – GOAL! EVERTON 1-1 MIDDLESBROUGH: That levels things up. Who else but Gareth Barry is on hand to sweep home on his 600th PL appearance although there’s suspicion of a high boot from Ashley Williams.
42’ – GOAL! EVERTON 2-1 MIDDLESBROUGH: Seamus Coleman clips home past a statuesque Victor Valdes after nobody challenges him in the box.]
45’ – GOAL! EVERTON 3-1 MIDDLESBROUGH: Yannick Bolasie clips a ball into the box and Romelu Lukaku claims the goal although it’s debatable whether he gets a touch or not.
For the first time since 21 November 2015 Everton win a PL home match in which Romelu Lukaku scores. They were winless in their last four home matches in which he scored, losing the last three.
Everton set a new club record for most points after five matches of a PL season: 13. Their previous record was 11 in 2006/07.
Gareth Barry scores his 52nd Premier League goal in his 600th Premier League match.
Seamus Coleman scores his first goal since netting a header in Everton's 3-0 win at Stoke City on 6 February 2016.
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