Goalscorers George Boateng and Mark Viduka were both relieved as Middlesbrough FC held off a determined effort from Xanthi FC to record a 2-0 victory in the first leg of the UEFA Cup first round.
Boateng opened the scoring midway through the first half with a simple finish, but felt the English Premiership side had been caught out by the way the visitors responded to falling behind. "Xanthi surprised us really, as we expected them to keep it tight in the second half but they had nothing to lose, so they went for it and created good chances - we were fortunate not to concede a goal. Having said that, at the start of the game we wanted a 2-0 victory so we're very pleased and quite confident to go there with a two-goal cushion.
"It will be a similar game in Greece, as they're aware that if they attack us very soon they will leave gaps behind and we can exploit that - and if they don't attack, well, we're winning," the Dutch midfield player went on. "Everybody was excited, it was our first European match [this season] and, although we didn't know the opposition that well, we knew that they had a few good players who could give us problems. It's difficult to say how good this win is, we'll only know after the second leg."
Steve McClaren's side escaped unscathed despite a spirited second-half display from the Greek visitors, and doubled their advantage seven minutes from time thanks to Viduka's deflected strike. The Australian international downplayed his own role in the victory, however, saying: "I don't even know if it was my goal, I think my shot was on target but I don't really mind if it's my goal or not. Obviously, I'd prefer if it was mine, but either way I'm happy.
"I'm not sure if we've got a big enough lead for the second leg or not; it's hard to play in Greece," Viduka added. "We played there last year [at Egaleo FC] and we only just scraped a 1-0 win, so it's going to be difficult but hopefully we can get through. They surprised us a bit in the second half because I thought we had the game under control in the first half, and we should have been a bit more ruthless then."
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