On the face of it, there would have been some very unhappy Everton fans leaving the Riverside stadium had we not have come away victorious. So, it was just as well we were in fine form and completed a professional performance, that was easy on the eye.
The Toffees took the lead with a scintillating piece of natural ability and skill from wide man Gerard Deulofeu. The Spaniard picked the ball up 5 yards from the oppositions 18 yard box, skipping past a couple of players on his way and turning his final defender inside and then out, completing the move with a strike into the bottom corner of the goal. The Everton fans travelled in great numbers, the club having sold our full allocation of 5,000 tickets. Deulofeu's goal really sparked the fans, but, it was not as if they needed any encouragement anyway. The second came from a fine team goal, created by the magician himself, Deulofeu, supplying Romelu Lukaku who scored with a clinical header across his body into the far side of the goal. It turned out that those two goals was all that was needed and the second half past without much to write home about, besides the long awaited return of Leighton Baines.
More than magic
It's hard to talk about Deulofeu at the moment without using that word, "Magic". The Spanish u21 international creates chances and takes his chances, as his performance on Tuesday night proved. Deulofeu made Fernando Armorebieta weak at the knees as he flew past the Middlesborough fullback on every given opportunity. Not only that, he set the tempo for our whole play in that first half, something that ultimately contributed heavily to the Everton victory.
The younger winger has now scored in half of Everton's four Capital One cup appearances so far this season. However, the stat that most impresses is his assists so far in the competition, as he has racked up four assists in all four Capital One cup games. Provider and scorer.
Thinking back to Deulofeu's goal, we couldn't have possibly asked him to take it any better. To out whit two defenders, before completely bamboozling a third and firing low and hard into the corner was a real show of his ability. It's fair to say he has a knack of making things happen and the Spaniard is a complete nightmare for any defence. More than just magic, class on grass!
28 passes to goal
This bit is a bit like that old company slogan "It does exactly what it says on the tin". However, it was more than that. As our chairman Bill Kenwright brilliantly, yet simply described the thoughts of our late great Howard Kendal at his untimely funeral, it was a moment for us to be "so proud". Howard would have been sat up above us feeling just that, as the team passed and passed and passed some more before completing the move through a wonderful cross and goal.
If none of that did the goal any justice (which it should have!), then maybe this stat for that particular goal, will. The Blues passed the ball 28 times between 9 of our outfield players. It went down like this: Tom Cleverley- Pass to- Seamus Coleman- Pass to- Tom Cleverley- pass to- Gareth Barry- pass to- Ramiro Funes Mori- pass to- John Stones- pass to- Tom Cleverley- pass to- Gerard Deulofeu- pass to- John Stones- pass to- Ramiro Funes Mori- pass to- Gareth Barry- pass to- John Stones- pass to- Gerard Deulofeu- pass to- Leon Osman- pass to- Tom Cleverley- pass to- Gareth Barry- pass to- Ross Barkley- pass to Romelu Lukaku- pass to- Ross Barkley- pass to- Ramiro Funes Mori- pass to- Ross Barkley- pass to- Leon Osman- layoff to- Ross Barkley- pass to- Leon Osman- layoff to- Barkley- pass to- Romelu Lukaku- layoff to- Ross Barkley- pass to- Gerard Deulofeu- (6 step overs later!) crosses to- Romelu Lukaku who scores with a perfectly glanced header! If ever there was a team goal that is it.
Something worthy for us, the players, our manager, our Chairman and of course our Howard Kendall to be proud of.
The Semi final
It was always going to be viewed as a tough draw at this stage of the competition. Although, i'm sure if you'd have asked the majority of Evertonians their preference of teams to face, ordering from good draw to not so good draw it'd have been Stoke, Manchester City and "them across the park".
Stoke isn't an easy place to go, lets not forget that. The saying goes "but, can they do it on a cold Wednesday night at Stoke"... Lets hope not, in this case! Stoke have taken some big scalps in the past season or two, none more so than that special 6-1 battering of their next Capital One cup opponents. That goes to prove that none of the teams left in the competition would have made it an easy draw for us.
Everton must go into the game with belief and the same performance that was on display at Middlesborough. There is no reason as to why we can't beat Manchester City across 2 legs and certainly at Goodison park come the 4th January. The encouragement and determination that a potential home win could give us for the return leg will be priceless. As they say, "It's the cup, anything can happen" and usually it does. We all know one thing for sure, that away end at the Etihad will be rocking come that 2nd leg and as it did at Middlesborough, we can hope it'll motivate the players that little bit more.