Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

An Awesome Aussie

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

An Awesome Aussie

Article excerpt

Byline: Eric Paylor

Semi-fit Socceroo striker Mark Viduka has taken a giant step towards earning himself cult status on Teesside.

Goodness knows what the big two-goal match winner is capable of producing once he is 100pc fit.

Viduka's clinical finishing was top drawer. It ensured that Boro won a match which they dominated for a long period, and suggested that the days of wasted opportunities may be behind us.

The finishing power of Viduka and his front running partner Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is going to make a massive difference to this team's potential achievements.

Boro have scored two or more goals in each of their opening five games, all of which have been played without a fully fit Viduka.

The Aussie missed the opening two matches through suspension and, only against Crystal Palace, has he completed the 90 minutes.

With five testing games coming up in a crucial 18-day period, Boro need to wrap him in cotton wool to keep him available and as fit as possible.

Viduka and Hasselbaink are the major difference between this season and last and the fact that they have already shared six goals is a testament to their uncanny ability to put the ball in the back of the net.

Steve McClaren was right to point out that, despite their dominance, Boro would have drawn or lost this match last term.

Ironically there's a strong similarity between Boro and Birmingham City, both of whom splashed out in the summer to bring in big-name experience.

Yet Birmingham looked distinctly lacking on Saturday. It hasn't really happened for them yet.

It hasn't happened fully for Boro either, though they've won three games in a row without reaching top gear.

Birmingham had four orthodox strikers on the pitch in the final 15 minutes, but Boro held them, and look to have brought in the better personnel. …

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