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Middlesbrough v Spurs, 18.12.99


Middlesborough scorers:-
Ziege, 34
Deane, 67

Spurs scorer:-
Vega, 7

Attendance:- 33,129

Referee: S Dunn (Bristol)

Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Stockdale, Vickers, Festa, O'Neill, Maddison, Mustoe, Juninho, Ziege(sub Summerbell, 90), Ricard (sub Armstrong,85), Deane.

Subs: Beresford, Armstrong, Summerbell, Gavin, Marinelli.

Booked:- Vickers, O'Neill

Tottenham:(3-5-2) Walker, Young, Campbell, Perry, Vega, Taricco, Freund ( sub Sherwood, 33), Nielsen, Ginola ( sub Edinburgh, 46), Armstrong (sub Fox,82), Iversen.

Subs: Baardsen, Sherwood, Edinburgh, Fox, Dominguez.

Booked:- Ginola, Taricco, Young, Sherwood, Nielsen

Sent off:- Nielsen, 90 ( 2nd yellow)


Brian Deane turned the jeers into cheers as Middlesbrough bounced back from their double cup exit with victory over Tottenham Hotspur. The striker fired home his seventh goal of the season with 67 minutes gone to complete a comeback which had looked unlikely after Ramon Vega had given Spurs the lead with just eight minutes gone. Christian Ziege cancelled out the Swiss defender's strike 10 minutes before the break with a neat finish, but he will have been more pleased than most with Deane's winner after contriving to miss an open goal.

The victory was just what Boro needed after finding themselves twice cast as unwilling participants in fairytale cup results which left manager Bryan Robson in the firing line.

But their cause was aided by the withdrawal of Frenchman David Ginola at the break which left Tottenham without their key creative force on a day of few clear chances.

Robson was again left with a depleted squad, and his problems increased when Phil Stamp pulled out with a hamstring injury, Neil Maddison taking his place. But otherwise he kept faith with the side which started in the 2-1 Worthington Cup quarter-final defeat at Tranmere on Tuesday.

Spurs manager George Graham made three changes to the team which drew 1-1 with Newcastle in the FA Cup third round with Vega, Mauricio Taricco and Chris Armstrong replacing Ruel Fox, Justin Edinburgh and Jose Dominguez.

Boro could hardly have got off to a worse start as Vega, who had already had a close-range header saved by Mark Schwarzer, went one better with eight minutes gone when he powered home a Ginola corner.

The home defence looked distinctly shaky in the early stages, and that did little to appease the dissenters in the crowd as Boro struggled to establish any cohesion in attack either.

Ginola, again handed a free role behind Armstrong and Steffen Iversen, was making little impression in open play, but his dead-ball delivery always looked dangerous and even Chris Perry managed to out-jump the Boro defence to send a header over on one occasion.

But to their credit, Robson's side pulled themselves together, and with Juninho and Ziege starting to pull the strings in midfield, they gradually forced their way into contention.

They had to wait until 10 minutes before the break for their equaliser, and inevitably, it was the German and the Brazilian who were architect and executioner.

The pair exchanged passes on the edge of the Spurs penalty area, and when Juninho fed the ball into Ziege's path, he smashed a shot past Ian Walker to level.

It should really have been 2-1 with 43 minutes gone when Deane played Robbie Stockdale into space down the right, but when his driven cross reached the back post, Ziege somehow steered the ball wide with the goal at his mercy.

Boro began the second half at a gallop as Juninho and Ziege both took aim from long-range free-kicks, but the game became increasingly scrappy and a little bad-tempered after the initial burst.

Edinburgh, on for Ginola at the break, turned up on the left to drive in a low shot which Schwarzer did well to keep out, but opposite number Walker did not fare so well at the other end.

The keeper appeared to be clattered by Hamilton Ricard as he went up for a high ball, although referee Steve Dunn was unimpressed, and he was still groggy two minutes later when he attempted to get his hands on Ziege's steepling cross from the left.

He failed miserably, and when the ball dropped to the unmarked Deane, he shot home with ease to make it 2-1.

The goal boosted Boro's growing confidence further and only a fine save by Walker prevented Juninho from adding a third on 74 minutes after he danced through the Spurs defence and left Perry for dead.

Boro had a late escape when skipper Robbie Mustoe sliced an attempted clearance inside his own box, but their luck had evidently changed.

Spurs' misery was complete in injury time when midfielder Allan Nielsen picked up his second booking within minutes and was dismissed.

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