Boro break 10-man Potters
An 85th minute goal from Tuncay Sanli handed Middlesbrough a 2-1 victory over 10-man Stoke City.
Last Updated: 30/08/08 6:11pm
An 85th minute goal from Tuncay Sanli handed Middlesbrough a 2-1 victory over 10-man Stoke City on Saturday afternoon at the Riverside Stadium.
Afonso Alves broke the deadlock on 37 minutes with a sumptuous free-kick after Amdy Faye had been dismissed for a reckless two-footed challenge on Mohamed Shawky.
Gareth Southgate's side were in cruise control after the opener and were presented with a golden opportunity to kill the game off when Seyi Olofinjana felled Alves in the penalty area in the second period.
But Stewart Downing saw his spot-kick clatter off the woodwork, and just eight minutes later Stoke drew level as Justin Hoyte, making his Premier League debut, put into his own net under pressure from Dave Kitson.
However, with five minutes remaining, Turkey international Tuncay poked home from Didier Digard's pass to secure three points for Middlesbrough.
The promoted side produced the better football in the first half when the misfiring Teessiders struggled to find any rhythm.
Indeed, City would almost certainly have gone in level at the break - and deservedly so - had their luck not changed so devastatingly.
Having defended resolutely for the opening 35 minutes, they contributed to their own downfall when former Newcastle midfielder Faye launched himself at Shawky as the pair closed on a loose ball.
The travelling fans behind Sorensen's goal could not believe that referee Mike Dean produced a red card and made their feelings abundantly clear, although television replays showed the midfielder had left the ground and gone in with both feet in a rash, style and left the official with few options.
Worse was to come for the Potters when Alves curled the free-kick past a flat-footed Sorensen and into the net to give the home side a lead they scarcely deserved.
The Brazilian had earlier headed wastefully wide and then completely missed his kick with just the Stoke goalkeeper to beat as Boro produced a disjointed display.
For their part, the visitors kept the Teessiders' back four fully employed with Ricardo Fuller causing problems and Lawrence orchestrating things from midfield.
Had the unsighted Ross Turnbull not got down to turn away Lawrence's 19th-minute free-kick as it sped past the defensive wall, his side might have taken the lead before the drama unfolded at the other end.
Much to do
But it was City boss Tony Pulis with the rebuilding job to do at the break.
With striker Dave Kitson having dropped back into midfield to leave Fuller alone in attack after the red card, City set about the task of dragging themselves back into the game after the break.
However, Boro resumed in determined fashion as they looked to kill the game off.
Jeremie Aliadiere might have done so within a minute had his finish matched the quality of his run into the box, and Seyi Olofinjana had to make an important block to keep out Downing's shot.
The England midfielder went much closer seconds later when he curled a free-kick just wide of Sorensen's right post.
Tuncay, who was having one of his quieter games, should have cemented the victory with 57 minutes gone when Alves picked him out in the middle, but he skied his right-footed shot high over the bar.
The home side wasted another glorious opportunity with 64 minutes gone when they were awarded a penalty for Olofinjana's trip on Alves.
Downing, who had earlier forced a good save from Sorensen with a blistering long-range effort, struck his spot-kick just as well but saw it thunder back off the crossbar to let the visitors off the hook.
Tuncay and substitute Digard both went close as Stoke rocked, but the visitors were back in the game with 19 minutes remaining with Boro paying a heavy price for their wastefulness.
Lawrence's cross to the far post left Hoyte under pressure with Kitson breathing down his neck, and the full-back could only bundle the ball into his own net.But Stoke's resistance was finally broken with five minutes remaining when Tuncay controlled Digard's delivery and fired past the stranded Sorensen to pinch the win.
|Middlesbrough||Team Statistics||Stoke City|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|6||Shots on Target||1|
|10||Shots off Target||5|