Middlesbrough 3 Chelsea 0: Mourinho brought to ground as Boro fly to the moon

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The Independent Online

Carlsberg don't do a match-day experience for Middlesbrough supporters, but if they did it would probably be something like this.

No, Chelsea are not Sunderland in disguise, as the Teesside crowd enquired after Aiyegbeni Yakubu confidently dispatched the third goal with the promise of more in the remaining 22 minutes. But to the astonishment of everyone, at times the champions were cast in the role of the hosts' hapless North-east neighbours.

"I hope they enjoyed themselves after that," said Steve McClaren, the Middlesbrough manager, who in seven days since Aston Villa strolled to a 4-0 victory at the Riverside has gone from being showered with bile to lavished with praise as a little love at last shone into his strained relationship with the fans.

Jose Mourinho never goes short of adulation, but for only the third time while in charge at Chelsea he had to discuss a Premiership defeat. Despite referring to Middlesbrough as a "little team", and having to stop himself from launching into claims Chelsea were denied a first-half penalty for a blatant handball by Emanuel Pogatetz, when the Chelsea manager realised he might be looking somewhat foolish, he did the magnanimous thing quite well.

Mourinho spent the rest of the weekend sifting uncomfortably through rare video footage of ineptitude in all departments of his side, which, when coupled with Middlesbrough's finest display of the season, spelt the end of a three-month unbeaten run in the League.

Having calmed down suitably, he will today address his players for the first time on where they went wrong. It is unlikely to be a brief team meeting.

Mourinho said: "You can say it's my worst Premiership defeat in charge here. Perhaps they might want to make a few copies of the video, to show others how to beat us. We didn't deserve to lose against Manchester City and Manchester United, but this was deserved.

"I didn't like it because it was against us, but I have to say I liked the way Middlesbrough battled for their lives against us," he added. "They closed every door and they showed a better attitude than us."

Chelsea were unconvincing at the back, subdued in midfield and pallid up front. Like Middlesbrough's celebrating supporters, the substitute Carlton Cole hit the bar, but the visitors came no closer.

A third defeat in 64 Premiership games under Mourinho hardly constitutes a crisis, and although their lead in the Premiership has been cut to 12 points, it should still be unassailable. Rather, this result must act as a kick up the backside to the complacency that is certain to seep in from time to time in a side enjoying such a hegemony over rivals who all raise their game against the title holders.

That Chelsea went the same way as Manchester United and Arsenal, while Sunderland, Villa and Charlton have all won comfortably at the Riverside this season, suggests that Middlesbrough have motivational problems against supposedly lesser sides.

"It just shows what we can do," said Yakubu, Middlesbrough's most prominent performer, whose 16th goal of the season helped to seal Chelsea's first Premiership defeat by more than a single goal in 83 games.

He added: "We need to make sure this is the start. There's no doubt we've played our best football against the bigger teams. We have to keep that level whoever it's against."

The visitors looked ill at ease even before Fabio Rochemback's first goal for Middlesbrough after 79 seconds, a tame effort the Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech will not want to see again after allowing the ball to squirm beneath him.

Stewart Downing claimed the second with his his weaker right foot in first-half stoppage time. It paved the way for only a second Premiership victory in 12 attempts, just as it appeared Chelsea might gain a toe-hold after Mark Schwarzer saved brilliantly from the lurking Hernan Crespo.

"The players have lived with this poor run for 24 hours a day," admitted Gareth Southgate, Middlesbrough's captain, who in the prelude to the match had insisted that if a man could walk on the moon then Chelsea could be beaten.

Middlesbrough fans were not so much on it as over it on Saturday night, and Southgate added: "Our confidence has been low and we've been accused of not caring, so I hope this shows how much we do."

Goals: Rochemback (2) 1-0; Downing (45) 2-0; Yakubu (68) 3-0).

Middlesbrough (4-5-1): Schwarzer; Parnaby, Southgate, Riggott, Pogatetz; Morrison (Boateng, 39), Mendieta (Davies, 89), Doriva, Rochemback, Downing; Yakubu (Hasselbaink, 88). Substitutes not used: Jones (gk), Maccarone.

Chelsea (4-3-3) Cech; Geremi (C Cole, h-t), Carvalho, Terry, Gallas (Maniche 17); Lampard, Essien, Gudjohnsen; J Cole (Wright-Phillips, h-t), Crespo, Robben. Substitutes not used: Cudicini (gk), Huth.

Referee: S Bennett (Kent).

Booked: Chelsea Terry, Gudjohnsen, Carvalho.

Man of the match: Yakubu.

Attendance: 31,037.

The 'Special One's' rare defeats

* 16 Oct 2004 Manchester City 1 (Anelka pen 11 ) Chelsea 0

* 6 Nov 2005 Manchester United 1 (Fletcher 31) Chelsea 0

* 11 Feb 2006 Middlesbrough 3 (Rochemback 2, Morrison 45, Yakubu 68) Chelsea 0

* Mourinho's Premiership record at Chelsea P64 W50 D 11 L3

* Defensive failings? Chelsea last season conceded 15 goals in the Premiership on their way to the title. Aiyegbeni Yakubu's strike to seal Saturday's 3-0 win for Middlesbrough was the 16th goal that Chelsea have conceded this season in the league.

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