Boro late show stuns Bolton

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Stuart Parnaby scored a stoppage time winner to give Middlesbrough a sensational 4-3 victory over Bolton at The Riverside.

The Trotters had shown all their fighting qualities to come back from 3-1 down to level and even press for a winner, but in the end it was Boro who grabbed the three points they just about deserved overall.

It was actually Bolton who made the perfect start, Stelios Giannakopoulos seizing on uncertainty in the Boro defence to fire the visitors ahead within three minutes. Middlesbrough failed to deal with a long ball into the box and the Greek star took full advantage, muscling through and blasting his shot Mark Schwarzer.

Just five minutes later Steve McClaren's men were back on level terms, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink converting from the penalty spot after Joey O'Brien had stuck out a hand to clear a dangerous cross towards the far post.

Hasselbaink's spot-kick was poor and gave a diving Jussi Jaaskelainen every chance of blocking it, but the ball squirmed underneath his body to make it 1-1.

The pace of the game never let up, as first Bolton and then Middlesbrough had sustained periods in control, with attackers seemingly queueing up to shoot amid some shocking defending at both ends.

Schwarzer pulled off two acrobatic saves within 30 seconds, first turning Gary Speed's long-range effort round his left hand post, then leaping full-stretch to his right to keep out a typically powerful drive from Jay Jay Okocha.

Middlesbrough responded strongly though, with Mark Viduka nearly creating something out of nothing when he turned his marker in the penalty area, only to be denied by Jaaskelainen from a tight angle.

However, the Australian was in the mood to dominate, and he was rewarded for his fine first half hour when he netted Middlesbrough's second following a flowing move. Fabio Rochemback floated a clever ball into Hasselbaink, who chested it into Viduka's path, and the burly forward did the rest, finishing with aplomb.

Boro should have extended their lead before half time, when Jaaskelainen could only parry Viduka's strike, but Hasselbaink was falling backwards as he changed direction and skied over.

James Morrison also failed to hit the target when presented with a golden opportunity as Boro swamped the midfield and threatened to run away with the game.

If anything, the second half was more action-packed than the first, with a goal this time coming two minutes in. Frank Queudrue's speculative punt up field eluded everyone and made its way through to Hasselbaink, and the veteran striker coolly lofted the ball over the onrushing keeper with the outside of his right foot.

Bolton are renowned for their resilience though, and pulled a goal back after 58 minutes following the second penalty of the afternoon.

Gary Speed was bundled to the floor by Ugo Ehiogu and the referee duly pointed to the spot. Okocha's tame effort was well saved by Schwarzer, but he followed in on the rebound and emphatically smashed his shot into the roof of the net.

Moments later another key decision allowed Jaaskelainen to stay on the pitch after he handled the ball marginally outside his area near the byline, and Middlesbrough could not capitalise from he resultant free kick.

Play continued to fluctuate from end to end, and it was the home side who looked the more likely to grab the next goal, with Rochemback stinging Jaaskelainen's palms after more good work from the classy Viduka, until another sucker-punch from Bolton.

Radhi Jaidi made it 3-3 with a close-range header from Ricardo Gardner's cross, and with ten minutes left, it was Bolton who became the aggressors.

They pumped the ball forward and started to play to their aerial strengths, but in a game full of twists, it was perhaps no surprise that it was Boro who had the final say in an extraordinary match, Stuart Parnaby scoring the injury time winner.

Late substitute Yakubu Aiyegbeni was given too much room down the left wing, and his inch-perfect cross was expertly turned in by Parnaby to send the crowd into raptures.

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Middlesbrough Team Statistics Bolton Wanderers
4 Goals 3
2 1st Half Goals 1
8 Shots on Target 7
5 Shots off Target 5
3 Blocked Shots 0
1 Corners 6
14 Fouls 14
2 Offsides 6
2 Yellow Cards 2
0 Red Cards 0
55.6 Possession 44.4