Middlesbrough secured their place in the knock-out stage of the Uefa Cup by holding last season's semi-finalists AZ Alkmaar to a 0-0 draw in Group D here last night
The Middlesbrough manager, Steve McClaren, conceded that his side had played for the draw, but was pleased by the result. "To come here and achieve a clean sheet was very important to us against a team who freely score goals," he said. "I think that's our fifth clean sheet in Europe this season."
The home side had an early goal ruled out when Tarik Sektioui's strike was harshly disallowed for offside. Mark Viduka wasted Boro's best first-half chance and the visitors were content to soak up the pressure, and the heavy rain, after the break. Chris Riggott was in superb form in defence and goalkeeper Brad Jones matched his excellence.
AZ can also qualify with a win from their last two group games. They are still unbeaten at home in Europe - a run of 22 games - and that record is a measure of Boro's achievement.
But Middlesbrough's captain Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink admitted his side had been lucky. "They were better and they deserved something out of the game," Hasselbaink added.
AZ Alkmaar: Timmer; Jaliens, Mathijsen, De Cler, Landzaat, Arveladze (Koevermans, 77), Van Galen, Perez, Sektioui (Meerdink, 61), Steinsson, Schaars. Substitutes not used: Buskermolen, Huysegems, Vlaar, Zwarthoed, Ramzi.
Middlesbrough: Jones; Bates, Ehiogu, Riggott, Pogatetz, Morrison (Parnaby, 64), Doriva, Boateng, Nemeth (Queudrue, 75), Hasselbaink, Viduka (Yakubu, 64). Substitutes not used: Knight, Southgate, Maccarone, Johnson.
Referee: G Paparesta (Italy).Reuse content