Boro blunted

Queen's Park Rangers 1 (McDonald 16) Middlesbrough 1 (Morris 7) Attendance: 17,546
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ONE would like to report that two South Americans graced this goodish game, but for every giddy run by Juninho there lay ahead of him Jaime Moreno. The Brazilian was mercurial, the Bolivian leaden.

Without the penetration of the injured Jan Fjortoft, Middlesbrough's possession football failed to release Nick Barmby as dangerously as usual. Nevertheless, after an explosive start Middlesbrough took control.

Before the Northerners took an early lead, however, Rangers missed a third-minute penalty, given for handball against Nigel Pearson. Simon Barker blazed high. He can be excused, as it was QPR's first penalty for 72 Premiership games. Four minutes later, the same player fouled Phil Stamp in the area. Now the visitors missed their penalty, Jurgen Sommer guessing correctly to turn away Barmby's kick. But Chris Morris was on hand to tuck in the rebound.

The pace did not slow. Gary Walsh fell over Mark Hateley's looping header, and the veteran Alan McDonald arrived late to head the equaliser in off the bar.

Juninho embarked on his trademark slalom runs, but his path was usually blocked. When he did break through, Moreno was there to snuff out the clever passes. Moreno had an empty net to aim at midway through the first half, but could not get to Barmby's drag-back across goal. Juninho left the field for treatment, returned and brought the half to a close with a prodigious run starting in the centre circle which brought a collective sigh from the Loftus Road crowd.

QPR grafted away, pumping balls robotically to the towering Hateley, but their play was only lifted out of the ordinary when Trevor Senior and Andrew Impey had the ball. Senior emulated Juninho with his pace, balance and all-round quality, and he had a header cleared off the line. Kevin Gallen came closest to giving Rangers an undeserved win, his superb glancing volley rolling just wide. At the other end, Pearson headed into the bar.

A draw was fair and, after a while, inevitable. The injured Juninho went off with 15 minutes left. As he departed, Impey trotted over just to shake his hand.