Goodison Park, Liverpool, England
20′ Stekelenburg (OG)
Everton recorded their best start to a Premier League season since 1978 after coming from behind to defeat Middlesbrough 3-1 at Goodison Park.
A contentious own-goal from Maarten Stekelenburg put the visitors ahead before an equally controversial strike from Gareth Barry, who made his 600th Premier League appearance, levelled the scores for the Toffees. That was before a fine solo effort from Séamus Coleman and a deft touch from Romelu Lukaku sealed an impressive victory for Ronald Koeman’s side.
The hosts went close in the 18th minute when Lukaku found Ross Barkley who shifted the ball onto his left foot and fired an effort at goal but Víctor Valdes palmed the effort away.
Two minutes later, the visitors controversially took the lead. A George Friend cross was contested by both Álvaro Negredo and Stekelenburg, who was impeded by the Spaniard and spilled the ball into the net. Everton players appealed for a foul but referee Lee Mason deemed the challenge to be a fair one and awarded the goal.
The lead lasted barely three minutes as the hosts drew level, albeit in controversial fashion. An Everton corner caused havoc for the Middlesbrough defence, who could only clear the ball to Barry, who on his 600th Premier League appearance, fired home from a tight-angle. However, it looked as though Middlesbrough keeper Valdes, was put under unfair-pressure by Ashley Williams, who led with a studs-up-challenge on the Spaniard; but just like Middlesbrough’s effort, the goal stood.
In the 27th minute, Everton went close to a second when Barkley surged forward and shifted the ball onto his left foot and fired an effort just over the bar.
Four minutes later, Everton went close again. A Leighton Baines cross was met by Yannick Bolasie who headed just over the bar.
In the 41st minute, Everton made it two. Coleman surged forward, collected a pass from Lukaku and beat two players before firing low across Valdes and into the bottom-corner.
Everton extended their lead right on the stroke of half-time when a fine Bolasie cross was adjudged to have gone in via a deft touch from Lukaku, who claimed the goal, despite very little contact.
In the 56th minute, the Toffees went close to a fourth when an Everton corner was half-cleared to Barkley who beat his man and fired an effort at goal but Valdes made a good save at his near-post.
Since then, both sides looked to find the next goal but to no avail as the Toffees hung on to record their best start to the Premier League season since 1978 on the day Gareth Barry made his 600th Premier League appearance.
The result meant that Everton moved into second in the Premier League on 13 points whilst Middlesbrough remained 11th on five points before the rest of the weekend’s games.