Boro rally to edge Eagles
By Mark Kendall
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Middlesbrough staged a second half fightback to see off the challenge of Crystal Palace.Middlesbrough staged a second half fightback to see off the challenge of Crystal Palace at The Riverside and take their place in the Carling Cup quarter finals.
Conquerors of Liverpool in the previous round, Palace looked on course to claim another Premiership scalp when they went in ahead at the interval courtesy of a Franck Queudrue own-goal.
However, two flashes of top-flight class in the opening ten minutes of the second half decided the tie with Mark Viduka and Szilard Nemeth ensuring that the winners from two seasons ago are in the hat for the final eight.
Viduka had the first chance of note on seven minutes, but after being played through, the Australian over-elaborated allowing Julian Speroni to claim bravely at his feet.
Viduka had another sight of goal on the quarter hour but Stuart Parnaby's chipped cross to the far post had just too much weight and it drifted to safety.
As the game progressed so Palace grew in both confidence and composure with England striker Andy Johnson, returning after a two-month lay-off, at the heart of most of their best work.
The diminutive hit-man showed a real appetite for the game following his lengthy absence and happily worked back into midfield to try and influence the game.
Indeed, his pace and trickery drew a clumsy foul from Gareth Southgate just before the half hour mark that saw Boro's captain go into the book.
Johnson was also involved in Palace's goal which stunned the sparse home crowd soon afterwards. His pass released Jobi McAnuff down the left and the winger's low centre was needlessly turned into his own net by the retreating Queudrue.
The hosts had chances to level before the interval but Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink miskicked after a determined run and cross from Parnaby, while Speroni was forced into a fine save from Viduka after a shrewd Fabio Rochemback pass had played him in.
But Viduka did not have to wait much longer to find the net as the hosts flew out of the traps in the second period.
The former Leeds striker restored parity in stunning fashion as he let a Nemeth pass run across him before unleashing a venomous 25-yard drive that flew past Speroni.
Palace hardly had time to regain their composure before they found themselves trailing after another well-taken goal from their Premiership opponents.
Nemeth broke into the box, and earned himself a yard by deftly delaying his shot, before hammering high past Speroni from an acute angle.
Hasselbaink very nearly killed the game two minutes later when he rattled a post with a stinging left-foot drive following a mazy run, but Palace served notice they still had designs on getting a result when Clinton Morrison, who came on for Johnson at the break, found space in the box only to snatch at his subsequent volley.
The visitors poured forward in search of an equaliser in the closing stages but failed to create a worthwhile chance and Middlesbrough held on with relative ease to book their passage into the quarter finals.
|Middlesbrough||Team Statistics||Crystal Palace|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|5||Shots on Target||1|
|8||Shots off Target||5|