Last-gasp Boro win at JJB
First away win in 2008 for Middlesbrough
By Graeme Bailey. Last Updated: October 5, 2008 12:23pm
Aliadiere: Grabbed winner
A last-minute strike from Jeremie Aliadiere gave Middlesbrough a 1-0 win at Wigan.
Boro had gone the whole of this year without victory away from home but they snatched all three points at The JJB Stadium.
Wigan had dominated the first-half and had tested Ross Turnbull on more than one occasion in the Boro goal - but with the match heading for a goalless draw Aliadiere pounced.
A long ball from Didier Digard was headed down by Stewart Downing for Aliadiere, who collected the ball and fired low past Chris Kirkland.
The Frenchman had been a virtual passenger up to that point as Boro, reeling from last week's dismal home loss to West Brom, were made to look distinctly second best.
Turnbull had denied the Premier League's leading scorer Amr Zaki with a brilliant finger-tip save in the first half and also thwarted Wilson Palacios, Jason Koumas and Emile Heskey as the home side pressed.
But for once it was Southgate who was left celebrating after a hard-luck start to the season, as Aliadiere ended a poor run of personal form by firing home, to the delight of the massed ranks of Boro fans behind the goal.
Coming off last weekend's superb win over Manchester City, the Latics had brimmed with confidence for most of the afternoon, Mario Melchiot almost finding Titus Bramble in the box with a fifth minute cross.
Then Palacios played a clever one-two with Heskey to burst into the Boro box
where the ball finally ran away from him as Boro, conversely, played like a team with the home defeat to West Brom still on their minds.
Zaki posed a constant threat and came close just past the quarter-hour mark when he picked up Antonio Valencia's free-kick at the far post but could only steer it into the side-netting.
Zaki remained at the centre of almost everything, lashing another speculative effort high and wide in the 27th minute.
Heskey, searching for his 100th Premier League goal, was ruled narrowly offside when put through by Palacios then Boro fashioned their best chance to take a lead their performance did not really merit.
With Wigan caught clearing their lines after a Boro corner, Mido swung a high ball back into the box which David Wheater met with his head and directed his effort inches over Kirkland's bar.
Zaki was the first man in referee Martin Atkinson's book in the 37th minute for barging over Mohamed Shawky on the edge of the Boro box, followed by Lee Cattermole for hacking down the same man two minutes later.
Zaki had the best chance of the half three minutes before the break, when he lashed a right-foot shot from the edge of the box that Turnbull did well to tip around the post.
Home side pressure
The home side continued to look most likely to break the deadlock at the start of second half, Palacios firing wildly over the bar after Chris Riggott deflected an effort by Valencia into his path.
Heskey curled a long-range effort just the wrong side of the upright and, with both sides continuing to squander possession too easily, the disjointed action was lacking any kind of rhythm.
Downing hit a long-range effort over the bar as if to signal how short of ideas were Boro, whose boss Southgate made his first change on the hour when Didier Digard replaced the injured Shawky.
A slip by Downing set up another Wigan chance in the 67th minute, Valencia neatly setting up the impressive Palacios, who hit a rising shot straight at Turnbull.
Bruce responded by bringing on Koumas for Olivier Kapo and the Welshman sent in a dangerous 77th minute free-kick which almost found the head of Paul Scharner in front of goal.
Koumas was injecting more creativity into the Wigan attacks and embarked on a rangy cross-field run in the 80th minute which ended with a powerful shot which Turnbull saved at full-stretch.
Heskey's toe-poked effort goalwards blocked at point-blank range by the alert Turnbull before substitutes Daniel de Ridder and Henri Camara combined, with the African forcing another brave stop from the goalkeeper.
Then, just when Boro looked like they would be happy to cling on for a point, they seized the win when Downing nodded the ball into the path of Aliadiere - who squeezed the winner low past Kirkland.
|Wigan Athletic||Team Statistics||Middlesbrough|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|1||Shots on Target||1|
|12||Shots off Target||4|
Barclays Premier League
|13||West Bromwich Albion||14||15|
|17||West Ham United||14||13|