Football: Maccarone Magic Pulls off Mission Impossible; UEFA CUP: Semi-Final, 2nd Leg Middlesbrough 4 Steaua Bucharest 2 MIDDLESBROUGH WIN 4-3 ON AGGREGATE MAC'S COMEBACK KINGS
Byline: Simon BIRD
MASSIMO Maccarone netted a dramatic late winner to fire Middlesbrough into the UEFA Cup Final after another astounding comeback.
Steve McClaren's men were heading for their second semi-final defeat in five days after falling 2-0 behind to goals from Nicolae Dica and Dorin Goian inside 24 minutes.
Yet with four goals to score in the final 66 minutes, Boro somehow repeated the amazing feat they pulled off in their quarter-final triumph against Basel.
First, Maccarone gave Boro hope before the break, Mark Viduka provided expectation with a second and Chris Riggott had a packed Riverside in dreamland as Steaua crumbled under a second-half onslaught from Boro's four strikers.
The winner came from Maccarone, the last-minute hero against Basel in the previous round, who headed home Stewart Downing's cross with just two minutes of normal time remaining.
It capped another remarkable night for Boro as they thrilled the nation again and claimed a place in the final in Eindhoven on May 10.
An ecstatic Downing said: "We did it once, and we've done it again."
Boro fans created a mosaic reading "Eindhoven 2006" in the North Stand in a show of intent as the Riverside created an atmosphere worthy of a European semi-final. Yet Boro seemed out of it after the Romanians netted twice to leave the home side with an impossible task.
It was Romanian star Dica who punished Boro with Steaua's first. The striker grabbed the solitary goal in Bucharest and he doubled the visitors' advantage after 15 minutes.
Boro were missing first choice keeper Mark Schwarzer after he suffered a fractured cheekbone in Sunday's FA Cup semi-final defeat to West Ham, and stand-in Brad Jones was under the spotlight for Steaua's goals.
Florin Lovin started the move that sparked Boro's downfall with Dica then laying the ball off to Petre Marin who strode forward and fired in a powerful, dipping shot from 28 yards. Jones got his body behind it but could only parry it straight back into the penalty area where Dica seized the chance, skipping around Franck Queudrue's challenge to plant home.
In a bizarre celebration to that goal a Steaua fan ran to the centre circle and promptly collapsed and was stretchered off before play could resume.
Worse was to follow for McClaren's men as they produced a collapse of their own nine minutes later. …