By Andrew Haslam at Riverside stadium
Goals from James Morrison and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink helped Middlesbrough FC come from a goal down to defeat Grazer AK and earn a place in the last 16 of the UEFA Cup against Sporting Clube de Portugal.
Having drawn 2-2 in Austria last week, the English Premiership side were favourites to progress on home soil tonight. It might have proved a very different story, however, Mario Bazina bringing GAK back into the tie with an early goal, before Morrison restored Middlesbrough's aggregate advantage midway through the first half and Hasselbaink confirmed progress on the hour.
Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren opted to introduce an extra attacker from the first leg, Joseph-Désiré Job coming into the starting lineup with midfield player Doriva making way. GAK were without Roland Kollmann, who scored their second equaliser in the first game, following his late dismissal, so Bosnia-Herzegovnian forward Alen Škoro started.
Despite the loss of their attacking inspiration from the first leg the visitors started brightly, and had already threatened twice from long free-kicks into the penalty area when they took the lead in the eighth minute as René Aufhauser's ball over the top of the Middlesbrough defence set Bazina clear. The Croatian midfield player lifted his chip over the on-rushing Mark Schwarzer and, although Gareth Southgate blocked the initial effort, the Middlesbrough captain's attempted clearance only found Bazina again and this time the finish was unerringly accurate.
The goal served to rouse the home supporters, who had seen their side hustled out of their early rhythm by the hard-working visitors. As so often this season, Stewart Downing was the catalyst for much of Middlesbrough's best work, and it was his left-wing cross that carved out a half-chance for Job before he created the equaliser in the 18th minute. Downing picked up possession in space on the corner of the penalty area and, although his powerful low shot was parried by goalkeeper Andreas Schranz, the ball fell perfectly for Morrison to rifle his third UEFA Cup goal of the season high into the net.
With the visitors clearly unnerved, Middlesbrough pressed forward, although Zenden's deflected shot was the closest they came. Bursts of driving hailstones were making conditions difficult for both sides, and McClaren opted to make a double defensive substitution at half-time, withdrawing Morrison and Job in favour of Doriva and Stuart Parnaby and switching to a 3-5-2 formation.
Initially it seemed that had handed the initiative to GAK, but the home side then strengthened their grip on the tie on the hour. Doriva threaded a ball through to Hasselbaink on the edge of the penalty area and the Dutch striker turned Mario Tokic before driving his shot through Schranz's legs to seal Middlesbrough's place in the Round of 16. One major concern for McClaren however, is Downing, who was carried off on a stretcher in the closing minutes.
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