Boro seize Uefa Cup momentum from Jol's innocents

Middlesbrough 1 - Tottenham Hotspur 0
Click to follow
The Independent Online

On the final whistle at the Riverside on Saturday, having seen off the Jol Babies of Tottenham, the Middlesbrough players stood beckoning their own young ones to join them on the pitch. Little Millie Queudrue was not too keen. The two-year-old screamed her displeasure as her father took her on a lap of honour. She had reason to be wary.

On the final whistle at the Riverside on Saturday, having seen off the Jol Babies of Tottenham, the Middlesbrough players stood beckoning their own young ones to join them on the pitch. Little Millie Queudrue was not too keen. The two-year-old screamed her displeasure as her father took her on a lap of honour. She had reason to be wary.

It might have been Middlesbrough's final home match of the season, but a bow of acknowledgement might have been more appropriate than a celebratory circling of the pitch. When news came through of a Manchester City victory at Villa Park, the reality slowly dawned that Boro still had one big hurdle to overcome if they were to have a Uefa Cup place.

Perhaps the shower of hailstones was a sign from above. City can rain on Boro's parade if they beat them next Sunday. A victory would snatch seventh place in the Premiership and the final European slot. Middlesbrough need to take a point from the City of Manchester Stadium to stamp their passports for a second successive Uefa Cup campaign.

The Middlesbrough manager, Steve McClaren, said: "City are on a good run, but our destiny is in our own hands. Today was the biggest game of the season for us and now we have another one. You saw the determination in the players. They used their experience to cope with the occasion. It stands us in good stead for next week."

The naivety of Martin Jol's young Tottenham side almost certainly did for their Uefa Cup hopes. Hustled off their game from the start, they could summon no response to Middlesbrough's assertive play and to George Boateng's 11th-minute drive. Spurs could still take the final Uefa Cup place, but only if they beat Blackburn and score three goals more than City manage if they defeat Boro.

Goal: Boateng (11) 1-0.

Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Parnaby, Ehiogu, Southgate, Queudrue; Parlour, Boateng, Zenden (Doriva, 78), Downing; Hasselbaink, Nemeth. Substitutes not used: Knight (gk), Reiziger, Cooper, Morrison.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Cerny; Kelly, King, Dawson, Edman; Davies, Davis, Carrick, Reid (Mido, 69); Defoe (Keane, 58), Kanouté. Substitutes not used: Fulop (gk), Bunjevcevic, Zieger.

Referee: D Gallagher (Oxfordshire).

Booked: Middlesbrough Southgate; Tottenham Hotspur: Davis, Carrick, Mido.

Man of the match: Boateng.

Attendance: 34,766.

Comments