Yakubu equaliser denies Boro

Yakubu Ayegbeni rescued Everton at Goodison Park, with his second-half equaliser against his former team earning them a 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough. David Moyes's side looked to be heading for their first defeat in five matches when Gary O'Neil fired the visitors into an early lead, but the Nigerian's first goal since September extended their unbeaten run.

Despite that impressive sequence, there were still muted boos from the home crowd as Everton failed to win in front of their own fans for the seventh time in eight attempts this season. It could have been worse.

In the eighth minute, Stewart Downing played a fine pass down the right flank, which caught Joleon Lescott out of position. That gave O'Neil the time and space to run into the box and fire low past Tim Howard.

Tuncay Sanli came close to extending Middlesbrough's lead from another Downing pass. But Everton almost levelled through Yakubu. The 25-year-old powered past Emanuel Pogatetz on the edge of the box, before drawing a brave save from Ross Turnbull.

Lescott's swirling cross from the left after 23 minutes caused confusion in the Middlesbrough defence, and the ball dropped for Marouane Fellaini. The Everton midfielder's hooked effort was heading in until Pogatetz blocked on the line.

That sparked Everton into life, and Phil Jagielka and Tim Cahill both had near-post headers that went close, before Joseph Yobo rose to meet a Phil Neville cross and headed just over the bar. Cahill should have equalised just before half-time, but the Australia attacking midfielder's header from Mikel Arteta's corner bounced wide from close range.

Boro lost defender Chris Riggott with an injured ankle after 51 minutes, but they almost caught Everton on the break when Afonso Alves and Tuncay combined to set up Julio Arca, who drove his shot over the bar. Everton forward Louis Saha threatened when he met Arteta's centre with a fierce header that just cleared the crossbar.

Middlesbrough had been warned about Arteta's set-piece prowess, and he made them pay in the 65th minute when Yakubu deflected home his free-kick.

Southgate's team could have regained the lead immediately, but Howard pushed Didier Digard's shot on to a post. Moyes sent on Steven Pienaar and Victor Anichebe in the closing stages, but the Toffees could not create another clear chance to steal the win.