Ronald Koeman settles for a point as Everton draw at Middlesbrough
Everton boss Ronald Koeman bemoaned Romelu Lukaku's inability to equal his club's Premier League goalscoring record after a goalless draw against Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.
Lukaku's four-goal haul against Bournemouth last week moved him within one more of matching Duncan Ferguson's mark of 60 but he missed a glorious first-half chance when he shot straight at Boro keeper Victor Valdes.
Koeman said: "It was difficult for him because he will always get his chance and he had a big one.
"But you are not going to score 100 goals out of 100 chances. He was working hard and he got his chance to score but I think the goalkeeper did well."
Ademola Lookman also fired into the side-netting for the visitors but Boro came closest to breaking the deadlock with Ben Gibson having a shot cleared off the line and Rudy Gestede denied late by a Joel Robles save.
Koeman added: "It's a fair result for both teams because the conditions were really tough to play in and it's difficult to create a lot of chances against Middlesbrough.
"They showed really good defensive organisation but we still had two or three really big chances to score. I think we were better in the first half and they were the most dangerous team in the second.
"It's OK, it's a clean sheet and a point - not bad. It's our fourth clean sheet out of six games and th's really positive because it all starts with clean sheets."
Boro boss Aitor Karanka refused to be downcast after a bright performance by his side despite their run without a win in the Premier League now extending to eight games.
And Karanka made a point of hailing the "amazing" home crowd for cheering his side on after controversially questioning the atmosphere at the Riverside Stadium over the difficult festive period.
Karanka said: "I think was a good performance once again against one of the best teams in the league - they arrived in good form and we were at least as good as them.
"We were really organised, we had chances and we were confident. The crowd has been behind us and they were amazing once again so it was almost the perfect game."
Karanka drew parallels with his side's 3-1 defeat at Goodison Park in September, when three goals in just over 15 first half minutes left his side reeling having been unable to cope with the presence of Lukaku in particular.
"We learned and I think we've improved a lot because they lost that game in 15 minutes and now Everton are better than they were. In six months working with Ronald they have improved and we could have stopped them and had the last chance."
Meanwhile Karanka urged caution over the use of midfielder Gaston Ramirez, who returned as a second-half substitute after missing the last six games with a knee injury and handing in a transfer request last month.
He added: "It's step by step - he's been out for more than a month with his knee so I don't want to make mistakes with injured players. I thought he was going to be more important from the bench like (Adlene) Guedioura and Rudy (Gestede)."