Brilliant Boro batter United
By Graeme Bailey. Last Updated: 29/10/05 7:20pm
Middlesbrough outclassed an under-par Manchester United as they ran out 4-1 winners at The Riverside Stadium.
A shell shocked United were 3-0 down at half time thanks to goals from Gaizka Mendieta, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink - captain in Gareth Southgate and Ugo Ehiogu's absence, and Yakubu Aiyegbeni.
Boro made it 4-0 when Mendieta added his second midway through the second period and an injury time consolation from Cristiano Ronaldo did little to appease the fact it was United's biggest defeat in 19 months.
Middlesbrough had dominated the opening exchanges and it was from their first attack that the lead came.
Mendieta picked up the ball 25-yards out, and unchallenged he looked up and fired a ferocious dipping drive past Edwin van der Sar - who will be disappointed not to have done better.
It took United nearly quarter of an hour to even get near Boro's box, but when they did it was a lovely move which saw Wayne Rooney drive into the area only for Chris Riggott to come across with a great last-ditch tackle.
John O'Shea then miss-hit his shot when well placed just six yards out after great work down the left from Park Ji-sung.
Boro then carved United open with a wonderful counter-attack led by Mendieta and it was the Spaniard who was sent clear but he could not repeat his earlier finish as he blazed over from the edge of the area.
However, the home faithful did not have long to wait for a second and it was again Mendieta at the heart of it, this time he was the architect as he picked out Hasselbaink's run with a terrific 30-yard ball. The Dutchman then turned Rio Ferdinand before firing under the advancing van der Sar.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was far from happy and after just half-an-hour he brought on Kieran Richardson at the expense of an unfortunate David Bardsley.
Mark Schwarzer had been a virtual spectator in the Boro goal and he was not tested until just before the interval when Ruud van Nistelrooy turned in archetypal fashion on the edge of the area before firing a shot at goal, but the big Aussie was equal to it as he got down to his left and pushed wide.
Boro did not want the first half to end, but they still had to add a third as Stuart Parnaby was hauled down in the area by a back tracking Richardson and Yakubu made no mistake from the spot as he slotted home coolly past van der Sar.
With Ferguson's anger seemingly ringing in their ears - United were out very early for the second period, but still it was Boro who created the first chance as Hasselbaink was sent clear by Mendieta - although the finish was lacking as he refused to take the chance on his left foot and Ferdinand stepped in to clear.
Rooney continued to try his best for United and he flashed an effort into the side netting, but still it was the home side creating the clear cut chances.
Mendieta once again led a quick Boro counter, but the Spanish schemer shot wide instead of playing in either Fabio Rochemback or Yakubu who seemed to be better placed.
The travelling supporters' calls for Ronaldo were soon answered, but even the Portuguese flyer could not shake United out of their malaise.
Indeed things got even worse for United as Boro added a deserved fourth and it came from Mendieta - the undoubted man of the match.
The goal was all the work of Yakubu who teased Ferdinand down the left before beating him for pace and cutting into the area, before laying the ball back for Mendieta who fired home.
Ronaldo did pull one back in injury time - United's 1,000th Premiership goal - as he headed home from close-range, but it was far too little far too late for The Red Devils.
The defeat was United's first away loss of the season and only Boro's second home victory - although the other was against Arsenal making for a pair of highly impressive scalps.
United are now ominously 13 points adrift of champions Chelsea.
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|Middlesbrough||Team Name||Manchester United|
|5||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||4|
|3||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||6|
|14||Total Fouls Conceded||23|
Barclays Premier League
|7||West Ham United||22||36|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||22||22|
|19||Queens Park Rangers||22||19|