When Yakubu climbed off the Reading bench with this tie heading towards a replay, Steve McClaren embraced his old striker on the touchline but dreaded what was coming next.
‘I thought “anybody but him”,’ said McClaren, who once paid £7.5million to take the Nigerian to Middlesbrough. ‘He’s horrible. He only needs one opportunity, and as soon as that big smile was there I thought we could be in trouble.’
Age has not dimmed the veteran’s scoring instincts, although exactly what that age is has been questioned by some.
Officially he is 32 but many were surprised to see him return to English football with Reading last month after spells with Guangzhou in China and Al Rayyan in Qatar.
‘He told me he was 25 when I signed him at Middlesbrough (in 2005) so I don’t know what age he is now,’ said McClaren with a smile.
However, when Hal Robson-Kanu’s throughball gave Yakubu a sniff of goal eight minutes from time, if felt like there was only going to be one outcome.
He evaded two Derby defenders and buried a left-foot shot in the bottom corner with unerring accuracy. He could have done it with his eyes closed.
This was certainly an improvement on Yakubu’s debut for Reading against Leeds in midweek when his nose was broken by an elbow to the face.
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