Downing confident Cup win will inspire Boro

Click to follow
The Independent Football

The Middlesbrough winger Stewart Downing is determined to succeed where Real Madrid failed when Liverpool head for Teesside tomorrow. At the same time as Downing was helping to fire his side into the FA Cup quarter-finals at West Ham United's expense on Wednesday night, the Reds gave their Champions League hopes a huge boost with a 1-0 victory in the Bernabeu.

The focus will be very different for both sides this weekend as they resume their Premier League campaigns with starkly contrasting aims. Rafael Benitez's men are second in the table, seven points adrift of Manchester United, after their title hopes were dented by last weekend's 1-1 home draw with Manchester City.

In contrast, Boro head into the game with only West Bromwich keeping them off the bottom of the table and without a League win in 14 attempts.

However, Downing is convinced the confidence gained from Wednesday's 2-0 fifth-round replay Cup victory over the Hammers gives them genuine hope of doing what Real Madrid's stars could not.

He said: "It's a big test for us on Saturday, it's going to be tough. They had a good result as well last night. But if we play like that, I have got no worries about us getting a result. Maybe we can bring them back down to earth. Maybe they will come here and underestimate us and get punished. Hopefully they do and we get the result we need. They have to win, there's no doubt about it. We will set up and probably play a counter-attacking game against them. We have done that in the past and punished them and if we play like we did last night, especially in the first half, we have got no problems."

Downing might not still have been at the Riverside Stadium had his home-town club finally succumbed to Tottenham Hotspur's dogged pursuit of their prized asset last month. To his credit, the 24-year-old has rolled up his sleeves once again and set about the task of staving off the spectre of relegation.

He was a schoolboy the last time Boro reached the FA Cup final in 1997, and will need no reminding that they were relegated at the end of that campaign, which saw them lose to Chelsea at Wembley.

But while Downing is delighted to have reached the quarter-finals for the fourth successive campaign, it is the club's perilous League position which concerns him more.

He said: "We have built the confidence up, we got a great result last night and the consistency needs to continue. Now is a massive time in the season for us. It's a bonus for us getting into the next round. But the big game is Saturday."