Massimo Maccarone was once again the hero for Middlesbrough as he netted a brace, including a last minute winner, in their thrilling 4-2 Uefa Cup win over Steaua Bucharest.
The contest looked all over after 24 minutes when the Romanian visitors raced into a 2-0 lead only for Boro to net four times and snatch a sensational 4-3 semi-final aggregate win.
Early goals from Nicolae Dica and Dorin Goian had the visitors in firm control, but Steve McClaren's side showed the same character that overcame Basel in the quarter finals.
Substitute Maccarone pulled one back before half time with Mark Viduka and Chris Riggott netting after the interval to set up a nail-biting end to the contest.
Steaua had everyone back, but no one to prevent Maccarone heading home in the last minute from Stewart Downing's cross to book Boro's place in the Eindhoven final.
Boro started brightly enough in front of a partisan home support but were soon left with a mountain to climb following a poor defensive play.
It could have been worse had Dica converted with a free header from Gabriel Bostina's corner just two minutes in, but he made amends for the miss by opening the scoring after 16 minutes with a composed finish.
Petre Marin tried his luck from distance and the effort proved too much for Brad Jones to handle as the youngster could only parry the ball to Dica who took a touch before lashing home.
The goal had Boro on the back foot and moments after Chris Riggott saw his clearing header bounce just wide of his own goal the visitors doubled their advantage.
From the resulting corner Goian powered a header at Jones only for Stuart Parnaby to make a hash of the clearance allowing Goian to regain possession and fire home.
Boro boss Steve McClaren was then forced to shuffle his pack with captain Gareth Southgate hobbling off with a hamstring strain, although his replacement Maccarone made an immediate impact.
Mark Viduka played in the Italian hit-man with a well-weighted pass, and Maccarone's superbly-placed shot into the far corner left Carlos no chance of a save.
Boro continued to create opportunities although Viduka and Andy Taylor both spurned chances to draw the home side level with time and space in the box.
Viduka came close to levelling the scores just before the interval, but Carlos made a bizarrely effective block with his knee with the striker's shot destined for the back of the net.
Former Leeds striker Viduka continued to threaten after the interval and only a smart save from Carlos denied the Aussie after great control and a first-time shot.
Boro then bolstered their attacking options by bringing on top scorer Aiyegbeni Yakubu, and while the visitors continued to look dangerous on the break, the Nigerian could have done better when Carlos spilled Maccarone's teasing cross.
The Riverside faithful appealed for a penalty when Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink went down in the area, although referee Lubos Michel correctly spotted the dive and booked the Dutchman.
Just a minute after Hasselbaink fired wide at the near post the score was all-square on the night when Viduka headed home Downing's deep cross with Carlos stranded in no-man's land.
The goal gave the home side renewed belief and it was almost three for Boro when Fabio Rochemback's swerving drive from long-range flew just over the bar.
However, the home fans did not have to wait long for another goal with Riggott perfectly placed to divert Downing's blocked shot home from close-range to set up a nail-biting finale.
Steaua survived a nervy moment in the closing stages when Carlos again spilled the ball when he collided with defender Sorin Ghionea, although he was quick to gather the rebound.
Just when it looked like it might not be Boro's night, Downing played a hopeful ball into the box and Maccarone repeated his exploits against Basel with the game-winning goal, although this time it was with a fine header.
|Middlesbrough||Team Statistics||Steaua Bucharest|
|1||1st Half Goals||2|
|8||Shots on Target||5|
|11||Shots off Target||2|