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Report: Boro 2, Spurs 1

Posted on 16 August 2008  - 12:00

Two second half goals saw to it that Middlesbrough claimed the points in our first Premier League outing of season 2008-09.

Report: Boro 2, Spurs 1

Two second half goals saw to it that Middlesbrough claimed the points in our first Premier League outing of season 2008-09.

Once again it was not a happy away day on day one as David Wheater and former Spur Mido netted the goals that sent the home fans home happy. It was a Boro head that contributed our injury time consolation.

The sun was out to welcome in the new season in the north east on a humid afternoon in front of close to a full house at the Riverside Stadium. The Spurs thousands were grouped behind the goal defended by Heurelho Gomes in the first half - clearly the noisiest area of the stadium.

It was the team sporting white shirts that made the more enterprising beginning, with Luka Modric and Giovani dos Santos dipping their toes in Premier League waters for the first time, while David Bentley and Heurelho Gomes were also making competitive first starts.

The more cohesive football was coming from Spurs in the opening ten minutes or so before Boro asserted themselves a little and began to rouse their bumper opening day crowd, with Afonso Alves attempting to impose himself.

The nimble feet of Giovani were dancing to their own beat at the other end, the Mexican international - also of Brazilian stock - was probing for creative openings and twice early on provided Bentley with half-chances that were pinged wide.

There were gasps of disbelief from the Boro fans 18 minutes in when Tuncay cleverly lofted the ball over Benoit Assou-Ekotto and darted into the area before unselfishly squaring to the unmarked Alves in front of goal. The Riverside was ready to rock to their celebratory tune before Assou-Ekotto propelled himself in front of the Brazilian striker, doing enough to deflect over the bar.

There was a bigger scare just after the half hour point when a Stewart Downing corner was powerfully headed into the net by David Wheater. There was a bit of tugging between him and Michael Dawson, but it was hard to tell why referee Mr Atkinson ruled out the effort.

Boro v Spurs

Downing and Alves combined moments later as Middlesbrough established themselves as the game's aggressors, the England man's low centre being fizzed just over by the tall striker.

The team needed a shot in the arm and no doubt a few wise words were imparted at the break, where there were no changes made on the day when the choice from seven substitutes was available to managers for the first time in the Premier League.

A swirling shot from Bentley tested Brad Jones via a deflection after the re-start, Aaron Lennon and Giovani persisted in trying to pick a way through Boro's defences before Alves sprinted away on the counter-attack and Assou-Ekotto rode to the rescue once again.

Jonathan Woodgate threw himself in the way of a Tuncay blast just after the hour, which proved the cue for changes and the entry of Dimitar Berbatov and Gareth Bale. Giovani and Lennon made way.

Berbatov made an impact straight away by playing Jenas through, but Jones advanced and blocked the captain's effort when a lead looked almost inevitable.

Boro v Spurs

The balance of power in the game remained difficult to detect until Boro struck with 20 minutes left on the clock. A low centre from Downing was diverted onto goal by Alves, which bought out a superb reaction from Gomes, but the the ball flew up onto the bar and landed at the feet of Wheater, who joyfully slammed home.

Darren Bent flashed a shot narrowly wide as the response was mounted, before third sub Jamie O'Hara attempted to capitalise on hesitation between Wheater and the goalkeeper - hurting himself in the process.

Four minutes from time defeat was confirmed when Mido was on hand to re-direct a miscued shot from Didier Digard past Gomes to make it 2-0.

Robert Huth reduced the deficit via an own goal from Bentley's free-kick in stoppage time, but it was too late to affect the destination of the points.