Middlesbrough 0 (0) – (2) 2 Everton
Attendance: 31, 628
Everton progressed to the semi finals of the Capital One Cup for the first time in eight years after securing a 2-0 victory at Middlesbrough.
Gerard Deulofeu and Romelu Lukaku bagged first half goals to send the Toffees into the last four of the domestic cup competition on a cool night at the Riverside Stadium.
There was also a first appearance of the season for Leighton Baines – the left back returning after a three month spell on the sidelines with an ankle injury.
Roberto Martinez drafted in Tom Cleverley, Leon Osman and Joel Robles as the away outfit looked to bounce back from Saturday’s unexpected 3-3 draw at Bournemouth.
And in an even first 18 minutes, the sides traded half chances as Lukaku and Deulofeu saw crosses into the box evade men in Blue, whilst Daniel Ayala was inches away from connecting firmly with an inswinging corner for the hosts.
On 20 minutes, however, a moment of magic from Everton’s Spanish winger broke the deadlock.
Picking up the ball just inside Boro’s half, Deulofeu drove forward at pace, shrugged off two challenges before guiding a clipped right foot shot past Tomas Mejias into the right hand corner of the net.
Eight minutes later and it was 2-0, and it was the Toffees’ in-form Belgian who doubled their lead.
Ross Barkley’s raking pass out to the right wing was controlled by Deulofeu and, after bamboozling Fernando Amorebieta with a series of lightning quick stepovers, delivered an inch perfect cross into the 6 yard area for Lukaku to guide home a header into the far corner.
Boro, meanwhile, had been unlucky not to open the scoring with their own goal bound effort – Stewart Downing turning away in amazement as Robles turned behind his curling free kick with his giant left hand.
On 33 minutes, a minute’s applause rang out for local football reporter Ali Brownlee, who was recently diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Kike then sent a lobbed effort just past Robles’ right hand post after the ball fortunately bounced into his path as the home side pressed for a way back into the match.
And the home side continued to pushed for a goal to reduce the deficit as the second half took shape – Adam Clayton flashing a long range drive wide, before Downing forced Robles into an acrobatic save with a vicious left footed strike.
Christian Stuani should have given Aitor Karanka’s side hope of a comeback midway through the half, but contrive to send his free header from six yards over the bar.
Baines was then introduced by Martinez in a bid to shore up shop, whilst fellow substitute Kevin Mirallas saw a stinging effort parried by Mejias late on.
Everton had done enough to progress, however, and eagerly await tomorrow’s semi-final cup draw to see who stands in their way ahead of a first Capital One Cup final in over 30 years.