Five-star Villa thump Boro
By Paul Higham
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Boro had not been turned over all season at the Riverside but Graham Taylor's men ended that run in some style, with a Darius Vassell brace, Gareth Barry, Dion Dublin and a goal for debutant Joey Gudjonsson doing the damage.
Steve McClaren's men tried in vain to hang onto their record with quick goals from Massimo Maccarone and Jonathan Greening drawing the sides level at 2-2 before half time.
Vassell had accurately toe-poked his side ahead after pilfering the ball on the left side of the penalty area, and with the Villa fans still on their feet, the visitors added a quickfire second.
Debutant Gudjonsson stepped up to take a free kick from a long way out and rifled his shot straight at Mark Schwarzer only for the Australian goalkeeper to make a complete mess of it and allow the ball into the back of his net.
But Boro are a tough proposition at the Riverside and staged an amazing comeback immediately - Massimo Maccarone first raced behind the defence to head home and get the crowd buzzing before Jonathan Greening drew the sides level just two minutes later.
Three minutes after the restart and Villa regained their lead when Gareth Barry, with a hint of offside, controlled a Thomas Hitzlsperger shot and fired home - with the defence left standing.
Vassell then crashed in a fourth for Villa nine minutes before the end before Dublin rubbed salt into the wounds by adding a fifth to earn Villa their first away win of the season and smash Boro's unbeaten home record to pieces.
Middlesbrough v Aston Villa
Click here for Premiership table