Football

Gerard Deulofeu stars as Everton ease into cup semi-finals with win at Boro

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Gerard Deulofeu turned in a master-class to send Everton into the Capital One Cup semi-finals and fulfil Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka's prophecy.

Spaniard Karanka worked with compatriot Deulofeu as a 14-year-old during his time as a national youth coach, and tipped him for the top all those years ago.

And he found himself on the receiving end at the Riverside on Tuesday evening as the midfielder opened the scoring with a stunning solo effort and then provided the ammunition for Romelu Lukaku to head the visitors into a 2-0 lead with just 28 minutes gone - and that is the way it finished - in front of a largely shell-shocked crowd of 31,628.

Roberto Martinez's men can now put up their feet briefly ahead of Monday night's Barclays Premier League clash with Crystal Palace, while Boro must dust themselves down for a tricky trip to Ipswich on Friday evening.

The hosts went into the game having win six of their last seven games in all competitions, but knowing they would have to play to their maximum if they were to extend that against Premier League opposition, and good Premier League opposition at that.

Everton were unbeaten in five and in no mood to surrender that record, or even to be extended the way neighbours Liverpool were by the Teessiders last season with the Reds finally edging home 14-13 in a dramatic penalty shoot-out.

From the off, they kept the ball moving, working to drag Boro out of position and create the gaps from which the likes of Lukaku and Deulofeu could wreak havoc.

The Sky Bet Championship promotion hopefuls might have taken the lead with goalkeeper Joel Robles turning away Stewart Downing's 17th-minute free-kick before being bundled into the net along with the ball to the sound of the referee's whistle from the resulting corner.

But the tie was effectively settled inside eight minutes as top-flight class was made to tell.

Boro simply could not get anywhere near Deulofeu as he set off from the centre circle and skipped past every approaching red shirt with the minimum of fuss before steering a right-foot shot past goalkeeper Tomas Mejias and into the bottom corner.

The Spaniard turned provider eight minutes later, accepting Ross Barkley's raking pass and bamboozling emergency left-back Fernando Amorebieta before delivering the perfect cross for Lukaku to glance a header wide of Mejias and in off the post.

Cristhian Stuani forced Robles into a diving save with 10 minutes of the half remaining and Kike saw a delicately chipped effort drop just wide with the keeper beaten, but Everton left the pitch at the break knowing they had one foot in the last four.

Robles had to tip away Downing's stinging 59th-minute drive after Stuani's enterprising run, and Boro saw appeals for a 64th-minute penalty for handball waved away after Emilio Nsue's ball into the box hit Brendan Galloway.

Stuani headed just over from Nsue's inviting cross when he really should have scored with 20 minutes remaining, but there was simply no way back for Karanka's side.

TWEET OF THE MATCH

"Good result and performance from @Everton tonight in the @CapitalOne_Cup . @gerardeulofeu looking the real deal. ??" - former Everton player Kevin Kilbane

PLAYER RATINGS

Middlesbrough

Tomas Mejias: 6

Emilio Nsue: 7

Daniel Ayala: 6

Ben Gibson (Friend, 83 mins): 6

Fernando Amorebieta: 6

Grant Leadbitter (Capt): 6

Adam Clayton (Adomah, 74 mins): 7

Cristhian Stuani: 6

Stewart Downing: 8

Carlos de Pena (Forshaw, 46 mins): 5

Kike: 6

Subs

Adam Forshaw: 7

Albert Adomah: 6

George Friend: 6

Everton

Joel Robles: 7

Seamus Coleman: 6

John Stones: 7

Ramiro Funes Mori: 7

Brendan Galloway (Baines, 73 mins): 6

Tom Cleverley: 6

Gareth Barry: 7

Gerard Deulofeu (Mirallas, 81 mins): 9

Leon Osman (Capt): 7

Ross Barkley: 7

Romelu Lukaku (Naismith, 85 mins): 7

Subs

Leighton Baines: 6

Kevin Mirallas: 6

Steven Naismith: 6

STAR PLAYER

Gerard Deulofeu produced two pieces of magic to settle the tie before half-time and was a thorn in Middlesbrough's side throughout.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

Deulofeu's 20th-minute opener was a thing of beauty as he ran from close to halfway, danced around the cover and dispatched the ball past the helpless Tomas Mejias.

VIEW FROM THE BENCH

Roberto Martinez will have been delighted with the way his team took control of and then managed the game to run out comfortable winners. Aitor Karanka could not fault the effort put in by his players, but their failure to take advantage of the handful of clear-cut chances which came their way proved fatal.

MOAN OF THE MATCH

The abuse Deulofeu received from the home supporters as he lay prone on the pitch after tangling with defender Daniel Ayala with replays suggesting he had been caught was poor.

WHO'S UP NEXT

Ipswich Town v Middlesbrough (Championship, Friday, December 4)

Everton v Crystal Palace (Premier League, Monday, December 7)

Lukaku spoke to Sky Sports before leaving the pitch and was understandably delighted to progress to the Capital One Cup semi-finals.

"We just have to work hard and keep doing what we have been doing," the Everton striker said.

"Today was a good result and we were 2-0 up, but we kept the clean sheet.

"We could have scored more, should have scored more, but it is positive for us.

"(The first goal was) very important but Gerard did a good job, scored a nice goal.

"He is playing very well, he is helping us a lot and I hope he keeps the level that he has (been at).

"We are hungry, young players and want to improve game after game. I think it shows.

"But we need to stay grounded and improve. I know that people expect more from us and that's what we want: we want to be better as well and we need to show it game after game."

Lukaku was speaking alongside Deulofeu, who was named man of the match for his goalscoring display at the Riverside Stadium.

"I am enjoying my football a lot," the Spaniard said.

"Playing with Romelu, Ross and these players is more easy. We're into the next round and we need to keep going for the next game.

"The last game against Bournemouth was disappointing because it was a game we should have won (not drawn 3-3), but it is a good moment and we need to keep going for more."

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Topics:
Middlesbrough
Football
Everton
League Cup

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