Middlesbrough 3 Tottenham Hotspur 3: Mido makes his point as Spurs show new steel

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The Independent Football

Just about the only dodgy records associated with Tottenham Hotspur these days are Chas and Dave FA Cup final songs.

In every other respect they are a vastly improved outfit, and continue to disassociate themselves from the clichés to which they once so readily succumbed.

Soft touch on their travels? They twice came from behind in this compelling contest. No-hopers once they go behind? This was the sixth time they have come back to take something this season. Cannot dish it out? Try telling that to Edgar Davids down a dark alley.

Even Martin Jol is keen to challenge preconceptions. This fully merited point pulls Tottenham level with third-placed Liverpool. Yet, given such a lofty position, how many of his predecessors would have so steadfastly played down top four hopes at a club which up until recently has been based largely on bluster?

"We're aiming for Europe," was as far as the Dutchman would be pushed. "We showed character to come back and I'm happy with scoring three goals away, but perhaps if we were a bit more clever we could have won."

Middlesbrough are matching the visitors in terms of metamorphosis. A ticket to the Riverside was once a passport to purgatory. Much more of this and even their notoriously fickle supporters will not be able to tear themselves away.

This ground has seen more Premiership goals than any other this season. Middlesbrough have enforced six shut-outs in Europe but at present in the League there is more chance of a clean sheet at a back-street hotel.

"We're shooting ourselves in the foot," lamented Steve McClaren who, though clearly angry with his side, realised it was a display that did not merit both barrels.

"Individual errors are costing us. Some of the stuff we played was terrific but it was a performance I couldn't make sense of." The visitors opened and closed the scoring. Robbie Keane rolled in the loose ball after 25 minutes as Mark Schwarzer spilt a routine Lee Young-Pyo cross, while Mido made easy work of heading home Michael Carrick's corner with seven minutes left.

Yakubu surged into double figures in the Premiership as the lead changed hands before the interval. The Nigerian was left unmarked at the far post to drive home a Franck Queudrue cross on 30 minutes before applying an unwitting touch to Morrison's drive which was drifting wide.

Morrison was later carried off unconscious after an accidental boot in the face from Keane: "It looked serious," McClaren said. "But he'd regained consciousness by the time we got back to the dressing-room. He had a little smile and a big black eye."

Spurs levelled on 63 minutes, benefiting from the decision to play three up front for the last half-hour courtesy of Jermain Defoe's introduction, as Jermaine Jenas curled home a stunning free-kick after Yakubu left Davids in a heap on the edge of the box.

Parity remained for seven minutes, Queudrue powering in a header off the underside of the crossbar from Fabio Rochemback's only decent corner of the game.

Paul Robinson, who kept the hosts at bay with four stunning second-half saves earned a booking for his protests. It was the England international's only mistake all game, as replays proved the officials quite correct to award a goal.

Goals: Keane (25) 0-1; Yakubu (30) 1-1; (43) 2-1; Jenas (63) 2-2; Queudrue (70) 3-2; Mido (83) 3-3.

Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Bates, Southgate, Ehiogu, Queudrue; Morrison (Maccarone, 89), Boateng, Doriva, Rochemback; Yakubu, Viduka. Substitutes not used: Jones (gk), Pogatetz, Wheater, Johnson.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Robinson; Stalteri, Dawson, King, Lee; Jenas (Rasiak, 82), Carrick, Davids, Reid (Defoe, 56; Brown, 90); Mido, Keane. Substitutes not used: Cerny (gk), Pamarot.

Referee: H Webb (South Yorkshire). Booked: Middlesbrough Doriva, Bates; Tottenham Dawson, Davids, Robinson.

Man of the match: Yakubu.

Attendance: 27,614.

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