United semi doesn't scare Neville
Everton captain Phil Neville insisted David Moyes's team were ready to win the FA Cup the hard way after landing a Wembley semi-final with Manchester United following a 2-1 victory against Middlesbrough.Updated: Mar 09, 2009 10:56 IST
Everton captain Phil Neville insisted David Moyes's team were ready to win the FA Cup the hard way after landing a Wembley semi-final with Manchester United following a 2-1 victory against Middlesbrough.
Louis Saha's 56th-minute header sealed a win at Goodison Park here on Sunday for the home side after Marouane Fellaini had cancelled out David Wheater's first-half opener for Boro, second bottom in the Premier League.
But the downside for Everton - who last won the FA Cup when beating United in the 1995 Final - came when they were quickly paired with Sir Alex Ferguson's quintuple-chasing outfit in the last four draw, which took place less than an hour after their quarter-final success.
Former United star Neville refused to be downbeat, however, after insisting that Everton are capable of upsetting the odds to win the Cup this season.
"Manchester United were awesome when they beat Fulham (4-0) on Saturday, so it won't be easy, but now is the time to step up and be men.
"We have had to do it the hard way this season, so if anyone deserves to get to Wembley, it's us," he added. "The fans will enjoy Wembley, but we want the trophy.
"From the moment we drew Liverpool and beat them in the fourth round, our supporters have been saying that is going to be our year.
"We want to bring silverware to this club because it has been too long since this club won something.
"It's great to be in the semi-final, but now we are there, we want to go on and win the trophy. We want to go all the way now and we have one more step to take to get to the Final."
Everton boss Moyes will takes his team to Wembley for the first time when they face United on the weekend of April 18-19, but the Scot was not looking forward to playing at the national stadium before the Final.
"Going to Wembley for a semi-final means nothing to me," he said. "All I want to do is get Everton there for the Final because we want to win something.
"There is still a long way to go, but we have earned the right to be in the semi-final and we will do all we can to get to the Final now."
Saha, released by United on a free transfer to Everton in August, proved the match-winner for the Merseysiders and Neville admitted the Frenchman's return from a hamstring injury lay-off has given the club a huge boost.
"We all know Louis Saha's quality and the lads are so happy that he is back firing again," Neville said. "He has now won a couple of games for us and it's great that we can call on him again."
Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate agreed his team's Cup exit could ultimately boost their chances of avoiding relegation from the Premier League this season.
"We were 45 minutes from Wembley, so everybody is pretty down, but we have to learn how to see games out," Southgate said.
"Everton tend to score goals from set-pieces and we had been practising defending against that all week, but we switched off for seven minutes and were punished.
"The Cup has always been a bonus, though, so this defeat means that survival is all that we have left to focus on," the former England central defender added.
"At times on Sunday, you could see why we are where we are in the league, but there are more lessons to learn and there is still a quarter of the season left to play. We will fight on until the end."
First Published: Mar 09, 2009 10:52 IST