Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Survival is the priority for Juninho

Juninho yesterday promised to unleash the full scope of his Brazilian brilliance in a bid to end Middlesbrough's 121-year wait for a trophy, but admitted that Premiership survival remains his top priority.

The 22-year-old midfielder understands the significance of Middlesbrough's passage into their first-ever FA Cup final and is relishing the task of pitting his wits against Chelsea at Wembley next month.

But he also realises that a fleeting moment of glory pales into insignificance compared to the fight to stay in the top-flight and believes that the team Bryan Robson built for pounds 26m will have to win three of their last five matches to remain in the big time.

Juninho, once again in brilliant form as Middlesbrough ended Chesterfield's dream with a 3-0 semi-final win at Hillsborough on Tuesday, said: "The FA Cup is one of the most important competitions in the world and I know how much it means to English players. It was an excellent performance by us. We showed that when we get the ball down and pass from back to midfield to the forwards then we are a good team.

"It is great for the fans. They haven't been very happy because we lost to Leicester in the Coca-Cola Cup final and then to Sunderland. But for now we have to concentrate on the important matter of the League. I think we have to win two games from the four we have away from home and win our one home game as well to stay up."

The survival bid begins at Tottenham tonight, but there is no doubt that Juninho is delighted to be locking horns with the likes of Gianfranco Zola, Roberto Di Matteo and Franck Leboeuf when he returns to the capital on 17 May for the final.

"It is very good for Middlesbrough that we are through to the final and that we are playing Chelsea. The FA Cup final will be much better than the Coca-Cola Cup final I'm sure, because Chelsea play football. It should be open but that's the English way I just hope we can win it this time," Juninho said.

It is a view shared by the Danish striker Mikkel Beck, who opened the scoring against Chesterfield: "It's certainly time that Boro won something. I thought we were unfortunate not to have won the Coca-Cola Cup at Wembley but now we have a second chance and against a team that wants to play football."