We must build on triumph over Chelsea, says Southgate

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The Independent Football

Gareth Southgate is calling for more of the same after seeing his Middlesbrough side ease their relegation fears with a 3-0 demolition of the champions Chelsea last weekend.

Boro head today to Germany for tomorrow's Uefa Cup tie with VfB Stuttgart on a high after comprehensively outplaying Jose Mourinho's men against all expectations on Saturday. The win put the Teessiders eight points clear of the relegation zone as Portsmouth, West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City all lost, while Sunderland's point against Tottenham seemed too little, too late.

It also rekindled hope that they can see off the German club over two legs, starting at the Gottlieb-Daimler Stadium tomorrow evening and then at the Riverside Stadium after an FA Cup fifth-round trip to Preston, before Premiership action resumes.

The victory could hardly have come at a better time after the 4-0 home drubbing by Aston Villa a week earlier, although the 35-year-old Southgate admits it will count for little in isolation.

"Any win at the moment is crucial for us, but to do it against the champions and the team who are going to be champions again was extra special," he said. "It was just so important after the humiliation of the Aston Villa defeat to give the fans something and to give the team confidence.

"It draws a couple of teams above us back into touching distance. We have had two important results on the back of Villa - and I suppose three out of four if you take the victory at Sunderland. Saturday was probably the best we've played since Manchester United. We have shown ourselves that we can win and beat the best - now we've got to reproduce that."

The break from the league programme may be welcome for Steve McClaren's side, although their ambitions to progress in both Europe and the FA Cup mean there will be no chance to relax over the next week or so.

"Stuttgart is a great game for us," Southgate said. "It's a big European tie, which is probably the first we have had this season really. That's what we are in the competition for.

"The league is obviously the most important thing for us, and it's going to be a scrap. But the cups will give us a bit of light relief, and you always hope that cup games will be a springboard for you. Maybe that's happened a little bit with the Coventry replay in the FA Cup. That was a tough tie and we needed a stepping stone after the Villa game."

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