Football: Boro take Pride without Gascoigne

Derby County 1 Burton 41 Middlesbrough 3 Deane 9, Ziege 20, Ricard pen 66 Half-time: 1-2 Attendance: 24,045

ANOTHER TURBULENT passage in the life of Paul Gascoigne ended with a twist in the story at Pride Park, when the 32-year-old midfielder failed to appear in Middlesbrough's side, sparking immediate speculation that he might have been too distressed to play after the jailing of his best friend on Friday. His absence was not to his team's detriment but leaves the England coach, Kevin Keegan, with even less time in which to judge whether he is ready to return in next month's European Championship qualifiers.

On the field, Middlesbrough quickly gained the upper hand and were always in control after goals by Brian Deane and their German international wing- back, Christian Ziege, within 20 minutes. Deon Burton raised Derby's recovery hopes but the visiting side, spurred by Paul Ince's midfield drive, gained more breathing space through Hamilton Ricard's penalty.

But what of Gascoigne? It had been a difficult week for him, what with the tabloids accusing him of a drinking binge (Tuesday, at Hugh Grant's movie premiere) and then his renowned soul-mate, Jimmy "Five Bellies" Gardner, sentenced to six months in prison (Friday, at Newcastle Crown Court).

But neither of these events was to blame for his not taking part, according to Bryan Robson, the Middlesbrough manager. Gascoigne had been treated for a "tight hamstring" last Wednesday and was now suffering from sciatica but was "always going to be left out anyway" as part of a planned rotation of his midfield players.

"Three games in a week is hard for players to cope with, especially at the start of the season," Robson said. "Paul Ince missed the first game and Andy Townsend has only started two. Gazza was fine mentally and could probably have got through the game but I was always planning to rest him."

Robson did not explain his failure to mention this plan ahead of yesterday's match and when asked whether Friday's court case had affected the player, he replied: "I'm not even going to talk about that. I don't know where this thing about Gazza's mental state has come from. He's fine and anyone who saw him against Wimbledon last week would have no doubts over his physical fitness."

Gazza or no Gazza, it mattered little to Middlesbrough against a Derby side who seemed more distracted than their opponents. The visitors drove forward at every opportunity and an unsettled Derby defence yielded goals to Deane after nine minutes and Ziege after 20.

The defending of the first was poor. O'Neill's corner from the left was headed towards his own goal by Burton, stabbed at by Ricard and finally blasted in by Deane from close range. Little could have been done to prevent the second, although Jacob Laursen's tug at Deane's shirt was unnecessary. The result was a free-kick from 25 yards, to the right of Mart Poom's goal, which Ziege curled into the top corner with the aplomb of a David Beckham or Gianfranco Zola.

Derby did wake up after that. Mark Schwarzer saved Boro once by beating out a fierce volley from Mikkel Beck but had no answer when Burton, making a first appearance of the season, drilled an angled shot into the roof of the net from 10 yards four minutes before half-time.

The second half saw new personnel and tactics from Derby, with an ineffective Francesco Baiano removed, along with Beck. The revisions forced the visitors to spend longer in their own half but all was undone after 66 minutes when the Derby defender Horacio Carbonari was ruled to have hauled down Ricard in the penalty area. The Colombian rose to his feet to take the kick and stroked the ball home as Poom dived in the wrong direction.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat