Boro edge five goal thriller
By Tom Adams. Last Updated: 20/11/05 5:50pm
Middlesbrough edged a pulsating encounter against Fulham at The Riverside, as they twice came from a goal down to beat Chris Coleman's side 3-2.
The London outfit took an early lead with a sensational volley from young Dutchman Collins John, and held on to the advantage until the hour mark when the tie developed a chaotic nature.
Four goals in 20 minutes followed as James Morrison grabbed a well-taken equaliser, and Fulham again edged ahead as Papa Bouba Diop powered in a strong header to anger the home crowd.
The topsy-turvy nature of the game was symptomatic of Boro's up and down campaign so far, but they showed good resilience to fight back and claim the win as a controversial equaliser from Yakubu Aiyegbeni and a landmark strike from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink gifted them all three points.
Steed Malbranque, Fulham's captain for the day with Luis Boa Morte suspended, started brightly and was denied by a superb tackle by Gareth Southgate before firing wide four minutes later after drifting across the face of the box.
Boro enjoyed the better of the chances in the first period and could have been awarded a penalty when Zat Knight, recalled to Coleman's Premiership team after breaking a curfew, barged Yakubu in the box.
However, John then came to the fore and illuminated The Riverside with a goal of tremendous quality, his fourth in six league games, although there appeared to be minimal danger as Sylvain Legwinski clipped Niclas Jensen's throw into the penalty area.
Liberian-born John controlled with his chest with his back to goal, and from the tightest of angles unleashed a perfect left-foot volley that rose over Bradley Jones and nestled into the far corner of the Middlesbrough goal.
McClaren's side responded to going one down and were only prevented from testing Warner on 14 minutes thanks to a timely block from Knight after Hasselbaink benefited from a neat one-two between Stuart Parnaby and Morrison.
George Boateng also saw an effort blocked before Dutch compatriot Hasselbaink failed to connect with an audacious attempted volley, and Yakubu had further chances as Boro continued to threaten.
Hasselbaink saw his low free kick saved after Jensen received a yellow card for hauling the striker back, and Boro were unlucky to see their best chance of the half go unexploited as Franck Queudrue beat Jensen to Fabio Rochemback's corner with a diving header - only to see his effort fly straight at Warner.
The Cottagers were keen to inflict further damage on the counter-attack and were inches away from doubling their lead as Brian McBride headed wide from Tomas Radzinski's cross, and the American was within touching distance of Malbranque's incisive curling pass ten minutes later.
Despite the discontent of the Riverside faithful it was Boro who ended the half on top as Morrison fed Rochemback for a harmless effort before the youngster opted to shoot himself three minutes later and blasted well over Warner's crossbar.
The second half started in a more languid fashion, as Boateng and McBride traded chances at either end, but Hasselbaink fired the game into life as he collected Queudrue's dangerous cross and hit a strong effort that looked destined for the back of the net before team-mate Chris Riggott inadvertently deflected over off his back.
Strike partner Yakubu headed agonisingly wide just three minutes later as Queudrue provided excellent service yet again with a beautifully weighted volleyed cross, and the Frenchman again proved influential with a marauding run before substitute Szilard Nemeth shot weakly at Warner.
The pace of the game visibly quickened and it was Fulham's turn to leave their fans with their hearts in their mouths on the hour mark when a one-two between Volz and John saw the German find McBride, and a superb glanced header from the American bounced unluckily off the upright after bypassing Jones.
Just four minutes later the home side drew level as Morrison collected a chipped cross from Yakubu in acres of space, and the youngster showed good composure to bring the ball down and slot in past Warner for the first Premiership goal of his career.
Hasselbaink blasted over as John offered a weak effort at the other end, and the frantic nature of the tie increased when Bouba Diop rose high above Queudrue from a corner to smash a header in past Jones on 70 minutes.
The disappointment was palpable at The Riverside, and the native Teessiders endured further frustration as Hasselbaink could only toe poke wide from six yards out after being presented with an easy chance when Knight failed to cut out Yakubu's low cross.
However, they did not have to wait long to see their team draw level when Southgate picked up a neat sliderule pass from Rochemback in the box and beat a diving Warner with a low cross.
Hasselbaink slid in and saw his shot deflected in by strike partner Yakubu, but Fulham were incensed at what they perceived to be an offside as only Knight stood between the pair and the goal at the crucial moment.
The high octane nature of the game refused to yield as Hasselbaink then made it four goals in 20 minutes when he collected a cross from Parnaby, rounded Volz, and finished comfortably on what was his 250th Premiership appearance.
Coleman's troops were shell shocked and Queudrue prevented Diop from fashioning another chance whilst Rochemback's fee-kick was blocked and Nemeth almost stole in to net a fourth in what was a highly entertaining afternoon on Teesside.
Middlesbrough v Fulham player ratings.
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|7||Shots on Target||4|
|9||Shots off Target||2|
Barclays Premier League
|15||West Ham United||3||3|
|16||Queens Park Rangers||4||3|
|19||West Bromwich Albion||4||2|