Boro slip up in Spain
By Mark Buckingham
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Middlesbrough slipped to their first defeat in Europe as they lost 2-0 to Villarreal.
Middlesbrough slipped to their first defeat in European football as they were beaten 2-0 by Villarreal in Group E of the Uefa Cup.
A first half goal from Antonio Guayre set the Spanish side on their way before Javi Venta sealed the success, after Chris Riggott had a goal disallowed for offside.
After a lifeless opening 20 minutes, Boro created the first real chance as Stewart Downing galloped clear and fired in a shot from the edge of the area which was uncomfortably spilled wide by Jose Reina.
Villarreal gradually worked their way into the game with Juan Roman Riquelme and Santiago Cazorla exerting an influence with the latter driving a shot straight at Mark Schwarzer from the angle of the box.
Boro captain Gareth Southgate was booked for tugging at Riquelme's shirt and the Argentine's resulting free kick was parried by Schwarzer before the Australian keeper frantically hacked the ball clear.
Schwarzer fumbled another shot from out wide by Cazorla on 36 minutes but, 60 seconds later, there was little he could do to prevent the hosts taking the lead.
Riquelme played a super ball into the run of Guayre, who showed great composure to hold off the defender and clip a shot beyond Schwarzer and into the far corner of the net.
The Boro keeper then saved another free kick from Riquelme before the interval allowed the visitors to regroup and Steve McClaren to bring on reinforcements in the guise of Mark Viduka and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
Viduka immediately ruffled the opposition defence's feathers and, following hesitancy by Villarreal, he showed strength to win the ball before smashing a shot just wide of the upright.
Villarreal continued to threaten with the probing run of Guayre presenting a chance for team-mate Hector Font but he wastefully curled wide.
Just past the midway point of the second half, Boro were denied an equaliser by the linesman's flag as Riggott was adjudged to have been offside when he turned in Viduka's shot.
To compound Boro's misery, they conceded a second goal on 74 minutes after an incisive exchange of passes between Javi Venta and Riquelme enabled the former to lift a shot into the roof of the net.
Though Boro have to contend with defeat for the first time in Europe, Steve McClaren's side are still well placed to reach the knockout phase.
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