Everton were denied by a stubborn and dogged Middlesbrough side as the two teams played out to a 0-0 draw at Riverside Stadium on Saturday.
- Middlesbrough 0-0 Everton
- Valdes denies Lukaku
- Lookman's effort is saved
Everton dominated possession stakes, but struggled to break down a resilient Boro defence in a first-half which lacked any real clear cut opportunities barring Romelu Lukaku's one-on-one in the 31st minute.
Both side's proved wasteful in the second half with neither side able to penetrate one another's defence and find the opener.
— Everton (@Everton) February 11, 2017
Everton dominated possession stakes early on and almost took the lead in the fifth minute when Idrissa Gueye slid a through ball to Ross Barkley, but the onrushing Victor Valdes stopped him in his tracks.
Adama Traore caused the visitors defence a few scares in the opening exchanges with his extreme pace, but often lacked the final delivery to advancing forward Alvaro Negredo. Boro should've taken the lead in the 14th minute when Negredo played in Adam Forshaw, whose resultant touch was cut out by the onrushing Seamus Coleman.
The home side frustrated Everton with the high defensive line, which resulted in talisman Romelu Lukaku being reduced to a virtual spectator in the first-half. Traore came close to breaking the deadlock in the 30th minute when his driving run from midfield saw him ghost his way into the box, but his resultant shot was cleared in time by Joel Robles.
Bernado's hospital pass from defence almost gifted the visitors the opener exactly a minute later, but Lukaku's was denied by Valdes in a one-on-one situation.
The home side gave a better account of themselves and largely dominated proceedings in the second-half with Traore continuing to menace the Everton defence with his pace and trickery.
The Toffee's almost took the lead much against the run of play in the 60th minute when Gueye intercepted a ball in midfield, before playing Lukaku through but the Belgian opted for cut-back to Barkley, when a shot seemed like a better option.
Everton's lax defending almost proved costly in the 65th minute, when a poor clearance from Ramiro Funes Mori resulted in Ben Gibson's goalbound header, which was cleared off the line.
Valdes again came to his side's rescue in the 70th minute, when he kept out Ademola Lookman's effort from ten yards out.
Robles did brilliantly to palm Rudy Gestede's bullet header over the crossbar in the dying minutes of the game, as neither side were able to break the deadlock in an encounter starved of clear-cut opportunities.
— Middlesbrough FC (@Boro) February 11, 2017