Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Boro Comeback Kings of Europe

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Boro Comeback Kings of Europe

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Gilder

Fc basel warmed up for this Uefa Cup quarter-final with a comfortable win against Young Boys ( but the men of Middlesbrough were no such pushovers on a stirring night of European football.

Having given themselves a mountain to climb in Switzerland seven days ago, the home side's Continental campaign appeared to have suffered irrevocable damage when Eduardo da Silva fired what looked a critical away goal to leave Steve McClaren's men needing to score four times to progress.

What followed will live long in the memory. In one of the most-dramatic nights ever experienced at the Riverside Stadium, the Teessiders mounted a thrilling comeback to secure a semi-final encounter with Steaua Bucharest.

Two goals from Mark Viduka and one from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink had Boro fans on the edge of their seats but it seemed as though the home side would not get the rewards their efforts deserved. Then, with 40 seconds left, sub Massimo Maccarone set the seal on one of the club's greatest nights.

Middlesbrough supporters were in raptures. Less than 25,000 had turned out for one of their club's biggest games ( matching the Champions League final comebacks of Liverpool in Istanbul and Manchester United in Barcelona for last-gasp drama. But this was a great game from the first whistle.

Inside 11 seconds George Boateng's long ball forward invited Aiyegbeni Yakubu to challenge Pascal Zuberbuhler and, when the keeper fumbled, the striker was presented with an open net. Under pressure he stroked the ball just wide but the home side's start suggested an enthralling encounter could be on the cards.

Boro attacked with pace and purpose while Basel, technically excellent, posed a constant threat. Yet trailing by two goals, caution was something the Teessiders could not afford to exercise. With their prospects so fragile given Basel's 2-0 first-leg lead, Boro knew the implications should they concede but forced to commit players forward, the home side were attempting a difficult balancing act. Disaster struck on 23 minutes to leave the Teessiders staring at a European exit.

Daniel Majstorovic's looping free-kick was headed across by Boris Smiljanic and da Silva stole in front of Gareth Southgate to convert from close-range. …

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