|Tuesday 19 April 2005|
Gareth Southgate Card was given for a foul
Player was substituted for tactical reasons
Player was substituted for tactical reasons
The official awarded Boro an 89th-minute penalty for keeper Edwin van der Sar's challenge on Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink despite the fact that the incident clearly took place outside the box, and Bolo Zenden gratefully accepted the chance to level.
Fulham boss Chris Coleman was incandescent with rage on the final whistle, although he was steered away from Mr Styles as he went on to the pitch to make his feelings known.
The Londoners looked to have snatched all three points when American striker Brian McBride fired home from a Tomasz Radzinski cross with eight minutes remaining.
But the Teessiders, who would have climbed into seventh-place and the final UEFA Cup berth with a win, denied them their first away victory since January 22 at the death to leave them more or less safe, but not quite just yet.
Middlesbrough's focus all season has been to finish in the top six, something they have never before achieved in the Barclays Premiership, although the weekend's FA Cup semi-final results mean that seventh will be good enough to earn a UEFA Cup berth.
However, if Steve McClaren's injury-hit squad welcomed that extra leeway, they did little to take advantage of it before the break with a dismal performance.
Bolo Zenden returned from an ankle problem to provide what spark there was, but what little his side created was wasted by striker Szilard Nemeth.
The Slovakian has repeatedly voiced his disappointment about his lack of chances, but with Mark Viduka and Joseph Job both out of action, he has been given his opportunity.
Taking it is another thing, and Nemeth repeatedly wasted good positions by failing to get in a cross or a shot when the occasion demanded.
Strike-partner Hasselbaink was a virtual spectator as Stewart Downing saw less of the ball than he did during the days when he used to sit on the substitutes' bench.
Fulham were marginally better but used their share of the ball more effectively, although they too failed to make the most of their chances.
McBride was the main culprit and, if he was unfortunate to direct an eighth-minute header just wide of the post, he really should have done better 10 minutes before the break when, having got the benefit of an extremely generous offside decision, he planted another well off target.
In the meantime, Collins John has scuffed a shot wastefully away from the goal after veteran defender Colin Cooper, 38, had stubbed a clearance out to him on the edge of the penalty area.
Boro trudged off at half-time to a chorus of boos after drastically under-achieving as Mark Pembridge, Lee Clark, Radzinski and Luis Boa Morte had made them look lethargic and uninspired.
There was little doubt that they would have to improve dramatically if they were to emerge with the three points they needed to climb into the European places.
But if anything, the visitors were even more prominent in the minutes immediately after the restart, Pembridge just failing to find either McBride or Zat Knight with a 48th-minute corner and Gareth Southgate hacking away a Boa Morte cross two minutes later after he had sliced his way into the penalty area from the left.
They were unlucky not to get their noses in front on 55 minutes when, after John had been felled by Ehiogu 22 yards out, Boa Morte curled the resulting free-kick over the defensive wall, but with keeper Brad Jones beaten, the ball came back off the crossbar.
The escape seemed to shake Boro from their slumbers, and they responded swiftly, although Nemeth enraged the home fans when he failed to get a touch on Ray Parlour's cross at the near post second later.
George Boateng drilled a rising 62nd-minute shot just wide after Knight had only half-cleared a Zenden corner and the Teessiders were finally making their presence felt on a sustained basis, although their tendency to give the ball away far too cheaply was proving costly.
It was Fulham now looking nervous at the back with the home side having re-organised in midfield to allow Parlour to partner Boateng in the middle with Zenden switching to the left wing and Downing to the right.
Zenden blasted a long-range effort harmlessly wide 16 minutes from time and Hasselbaink flicked a header agonisingly past the post three minutes later, but the decisive moment was to come at the other end.
There were just eight minutes remaining when Radzinski found space on the right and crossed to the far post, where McBride controlled assuredly before driving a low shot past Brad Jones.
However, his side was to be denied victory by Styles' error, with Zenden making no mistake from the spot.
Competition: Barclays Premier League
Date: Tuesday 19 April 2005
Venue: Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough
Referee: Rob Styles
Line-up: Jones; Cooper (Kennedy 86'), Southgate, Ehiogu, Queudrue; Zenden, Boateng, Parlour, Downing; Hasselbaink, Nemeth
Unused substitutes: Knight, Wheater, Davies, Doriva
Line-up: Van der Sar; Volz, Knight, Goma, Rosenior; Radzinski, Pembridge, Clark, Boa Morte; John (Malbranque 82'), McBride
Unused substitutes: Crossley, Bocanegra, Claus Jensen, Rehman
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