By Andrew Haslam at Riverside Stadium
Two fine goals from Boudewijn Zenden earned Middlesbrough FC a comfortable victory against S.S. Lazio that kept the English side at the top of UEFA Cup Group E.
Goal in each half
The Dutch international broke the deadlock in the 16th minute with a sweetly-struck volley before sealing the points 19 minutes from time with an accurate header. The win gave the European debutants their second consecutive success following a 1-0 victory at Egaleo FC on Matchday 1, while Lazio dropped to fourth with a single point.
With Ray Parlour recovering from a back injury, Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren fielded an unchanged side for the first time this season, although former Lazio player Gaizka Mendieta missed the chance of a reunion against his former club through injury. The Italian side had 34-year-old third-choice goalkeeper Fabrizio Casazza making his first-team debut as leg problems ruled out both Angelo Peruzzi and Matteo Sereni, while Simone Inzaghi and Fabio Liverani missed out with minor injuries.
Despite the vociferous support of a near-capacity crowd of 33,991 it was the visitors who had the first sight of goal, Antonio Filippini shooting wide from inside the area. Parlour's effort then forced Casazza into action.
Paolo Di Canio's shot was well held by Middlesbrough goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer before the home side took the lead. Stewart Downing's break caused Lazio problems and, with the visiting defence unable to clear, the ball fell perfectly for Zenden to thump a first-time volley into the corner of the net from the edge of the area.
The goal was the catalyst for a prolonged spell of Middlesbrough pressure, with Mark Viduka going close twice in quick succession, the second a speculative overhead effort that landed on the roof of the net. Both teams were reduced to long-range attempts as half-time approached, however, with Parlour's swerving effort that flew fractionally over the closest either came.
In contrast to the first half the second began quietly, although Viduka did work a shooting chance after some clever footwork only to slice well wide. The home side continued to look the more likely scorers, Downing cutting inside before curling a right-foot shot just too high and then beating Casazza to a long ball forward only to see Fernando Couto head his lob away.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's stinging shot was pushed away by Casazza, but from Downing's resulting right-wing corner, it was 2-0. Lazio were again unable to clear and, when the ball was played back out to the English Under-21 winger, his pinpoint cross picked out the unmarked Zenden at the far post, and his header gave Casazza no chance.
The home side had a number of other chances to make the win even more emphatic, but nevertheless go into their next match, at Villarreal CF on 25 November, in good heart. Lazio are at home to FK Partizan the same night.