Despite the heroics of FC Baník Ostrava goalkeeper Martin Raška, Middlesbrough FC got their first-ever UEFA Cup campaign off to a flying start with a 3-0 first round first-leg victory at the Riverside Stadium.
It looked as if it was going to be one of those nights for the English Premiership outfit as Raška made a string of first-half saves to keep the home side at bay. But in the end, Steve McClaren's men managed to find a crucial cutting edge after the break that Banik, for all their hard work and stamina, lacked as first former Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink fired home before Mark Viduka added two cleverly-crafted goals.
Raška was the hero of the half as he made a number of saves, the best of which saw Szilárd Nemeth have his superb shot brilliantly stopped. Despite the loss of Ugo Ehiogu and Spanish playmaker Gaizka Mendieta through injury, McClaren's team looked strong and agile throughout.
After Nemeth's fine effort, the next real danger from Middlesbrough came on 29 minutes when Stuart Parnaby saw his shot somehow saved by the foot of Raška. But Middlesbrough began to look more menacing as they exploited Banik's naivety at the back after half-time. George Boateng began taking shots from range and it was his second - in as many minutes - that saw Middlesbrough open their European account. Hasselbaink pounced on the ball from close range as it rebounded off a Baník defender and, in a flash, it was in the back of the visitors' net on 57 minutes.
Deserved second goal
The home side earned themselves a deserved second goal just six minutes later. This time former Leeds United AFC striker Viduka got in on the act by scoring from close range, but all credit should go to the outstanding Middlesbrough man Szilárd Nemeth who, with his back to goal, managed to twist the ball in mid-air into Viduka's path.
Miroslav Matušovic's insightful invention and trickery down the right-hand side was coming to nothing for Baník. So it was no surprise when Viduka wrapped up the night, and possibly the tie, as Middlesbrough saved the best for last. This time, it was Boudewijn Zenden who provided the magic as he floated a perfectly-weighted high ball into the near post, where Australia striker Viduka headed in.