Sporting Clube de Portugal produced a devastating display of counterattacking football to win the first leg 3-2 and take a significant step towards the UEFA Cup quarter-finals.
Middlesbrough FC, though, will be encouraged by a late recovery which saw them score twice in the last eleven minutes after being 3-0 down at the Riverside. Steve McClaren's side will definitely progress with a a two-goal winning margin in Portugal but have won just once away in the competition this season, 1-0 at Panionios NFC in the group stage.
The Estádio José Alvalade, which will stage the final on 18 May, has been a happy home for Sporting, the Lisbon side winning three of their four home UEFA Cup matches. The only blemish was a 1-0 loss to FC Sochaux-Montbéliard in the group stage.
Although this tie is the teams' first meeting, Middlesbrough are the fifth English side to play Sporting in UEFA club competition. In the 1981/82 UEFA Cup second round, Manuel Fernandes scored twice as Sporting triumphed 4-2 at Southampton FC and on aggregate. On their way to lifting the 1963/64 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup - their only European trophy - Sporting also defeated Manchester United FC 6-4 on aggregate in the quarter-final.
After losing the first leg at Old Trafford 4-1 to a Denis Law hat-trick and a fourth from Bobby Charlton, they won the game in Portugal 5-0, with Osvaldo Silva replicating Law's feats from the opening match. In the 1973/74 Cup Winners' Cup second round, Sporting overcame Sunderland 3-2 on aggregate despite a 2-1 loss at Roker Park.
Their only draw in England was against Newcastle United FC in this season's group stage. The hosts took an early lead through Craig Bellamy before Custódio claimed a point for Sporting with a goal shortly before half-time.
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