Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's early goal got Middlesbrough FC's UEFA Cup Group D campaign off to a winning start as the English visitors held firm in the face of a determined effort from Swiss side Grasshopper-Club.
The away side scored the decisive goal at the Hardturm stadium in Zurich in the tenth minute, Hasselbaink calmly slotting past goalkeeper Fabio Coltorti to give the English side - who also began the group stage with a 1-0 away win last season, at Egaleo FC - the perfect start in the section. However, Grasshoppers fought back strongly in the second period and had a number of opportunities to take something from the game.
Middlesbrough reached the last 16 on their European debut last season and, having defeated Skoda Xanthi FC in the first round, began in confident mood in Switzerland. Coltorti had already saved a Gaizka Mendieta free-kick and blocked a Mark Viduka shot with his legs after the Australian striker had turned well, but was powerless to prevent Middlesbrough taking the lead in the tenth minute. Doriva played a one-two with Viduka before slipping a square pass to Hasselbaink, whose side-footed finish sent the Grasshoppers goalkeeper the wrong way.
Szilárd Németh then had two opportunities to increase Middlesbrough's lead, first electing to pass to Hasselbaink when a shot looked the better option before dragging a shot wide after more incisive interplay from the Middlesbrough forwards. Eduardo had a strike ruled out for offside for the home side, who threatened again five minutes after half-time when Mark Schwarzer kept out Ricardo Cabanas's well-struck drive.
Doriva drills wide
Grasshoppers kept up the pressure, although the game might have been settled in the 56th minute as Mendieta sliced open the home defence and played in Doriva, but the Brazilian midfielder drilled his shot wide of the far post. The visitors were largely content to protect their lead, however, with central defenders Gareth Southgate and Chris Riggott increasingly prominent in the second 45 minutes.
The latter blocked Eduardo's powerful attempt with 20 minutes left, before Schwarzer stretched to claim a Cabanas free-kick. The Middlesbrough goalkeeper then kept out Rogerio's 78th-minute header, ensuring the away side left Switzerland with all three points and leaving Grasshoppers ruing those missed opportunities.