Substitute Massimo Maccarone scored a dramatic winning goal seconds before the final whistle as Middlesbrough FC sealed a 4-3 aggregate win, to reach the UEFA Cup semi-finals for the first time after a rousing second-half fightback against FC Basel 1893.
Christian Gross' Basel always looked in control, having earned a 2-0 victory on home soil in last week's first leg, and their grip on the tie was further strengthened by Eduardo's close-range finish midway through the first half. Mark Viduka struck twice either side of half-time to breathe fresh life into the Middlesbrough's challenge, however, and when Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink found the net with a thunderous strike moments after the dismissal of Basel's Swedish defender Daniel Majstorovic, the momentum was with the home side. With time almost up, Maccarone slid in the winning goal from a tight angle to crown a remarkable comeback and earn a last-four tie against FC Steaua Bucuresti.
The home team came close to halving their deficit in the opening seconds as Pascal Zuberbühler failed to collect George Boateng's high ball under pressure from Yakubu Ayegbeni but the Nigerian international's angled shot towards the unguarded goal rolled into the side-netting. Basel then served notice of their attacking intent as Mile Sterjovski was left unmarked from a free-kick to flick an effort wide, but Middlesbrough failed to heed the warning and another set-piece proved their undoing in the 23rd minute, Boris Smiljanic nodding Mladen Petrić's free-kick across goal for Eduardo to tap in at the far post.
That left the home side needing to score four times to stay in the competition, and they replied rapidly as Yakubu's physical presence unsettled the Basel defence and Viduka collected the loose ball before drilling a shot past Zuberbühler. The Basel goalkeeper preserved his side's two-goal aggregate advantage as the interval approached, however, stretching to palm Yakubu's effort around the post after a slick passing move had sliced open the visitors.
Urged on by tremendous home support Middlesbrough began the second period in frenetic fashion, with half-time substitute Hasselbaink and Viduka both forcing Zuberbühler into action. The Basel goalkeeper was powerless three minutes before the hour, however, Viduka collecting Yakubu's defence-splitting pass and rounding the goalkeeper to roll in before Majstorovic was sent off for a second bookable offence. Hasselbaink raised home hopes almost immediately with a thunderous shot from the edge of the area and just as it seemed Basel would hold out, Zuberbühler parried Fábio Rochemback's effort and Maccarone slid in the rebound from an acute angle to spark wild celebrations.