Saturday 24 August 2002, 3:00pm at The Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough
Barclays Premier League
Middlesbrough
2
Maccarone 32', 51'
Fulham FC
Fulham
2
Davis 90'; Sava 90'+1
Fulham's first away fixture of the season was a roller-coaster match against Middlesbrough which saw Sean Davis and Facundo Sava both score in injury-time to secure an unlikely point for the Whites.

32' Goal

Massimo Maccarone

51' Goal

Massimo Maccarone

39' Yellow Card

Carlos Marinelli Card was given for a foul

45' Yellow Card

Geremi Card was given for a foul

47' Yellow Card

Ugo Ehiogu Card was given for a foul

90' Yellow Card

Mark Wilson Card was given for a foul

79' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Joseph-Desire Job
Off:Alen Boksic

84' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Mark Wilson
Off:Carlos Marinelli

84' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Noel Whelan
Off:Massimo Maccarone

90' Goal

Sean Davis

90'+1 Goal

Facundo Sava

4' Yellow Card

Steed Malbranque Card was given for a foul

31' Yellow Card

Steve Finnan Card was given for a foul

60' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Junichi Inamoto
Off:Steed Malbranque

61' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Facundo Sava
Off:Steve Marlet

0
15
30
45
60
75
90

For all those who remember the Addams Family, with his bald head Massimo Maccarone looks not dissimilar to Uncle Festa.

So perhaps it was appropriate that - along with a brilliant performance from the 22-year-old Italian this afternoon - Middlesbrough also produced a horror story.

Maccarone scored two spectacular goals, one in each half, to pay off a huge chunk of the club record £8.1million transfer fee which is the biggest gamble of manager Steve McClaren's fledgling managerial career.

Then, just when it seemed Boro were cruising comfortably to their first Barclaycard Premiership victory of the season, Fulham's Sean Davis and substitute Facundo Sava popped up with two goals in the last minute of normal time to steal a point they had never looked like sharing.

It was desperately dismal defending as Middlesbrough seemed to lose their concentration just when the hard work had been done.

They paid a heavy price for their late nerves, yet Fulham should be congratulated for proving that they are not just a side pleasing on the eye.

The London side have steel as well as style and manager Jean Tigana will have taken heart in that before their final qualifying leg in the Intertoto Cup.

The frenetic and disappointing ending for Middlesbrough somewhat overshadowed the earlier brilliance of Maccarone - and that was a pity.

There had been much criticism of McClaren's decision to buy the 22-year-old in pre-season, especially as the striker had come from unfashionable Italian club Empoli and had never played at the highest level.

He had been spotted by Boro first-team coach, however, scoring two goals for Italy's Under-21 side against their England counterparts.

And the panache with which he emulated that scoring feat this afternoon suggests there could just be the first stirrings of a revival on Teesside.

It wasn't just Maccarone's nose for a goal, though that was impressive enough.

It was his movement and pace and his ability to twist and turn defenders. He gave Fulham captain Andy Melville a torrid afternoon.

His partnership with Croatian international Alen Boksic also suggested this was no one-man striking band as McClaren attempts to bring the good times back to Teesside.

With new boy George Boateng, a man bought to replace Paul Ince, and Jonathan Greening also supplying the inspiration and buckets of industry in midfield it is not surprising there was a sense of renewal in the air.

Indeed, when Maccarone was substituted in the 84th minute for Noel Whelan he received a reception usually reserved only for north east greats in this part of the world.

They had no inkling then of the drama o come. As it was for much of the first half this match was about as appetising as sitting in a Bank Holiday traffic jam.

It was slow and ponderous, lacking in guile and desperate for someone to grasp the notion that the Premiership was supposed to be the most entertaining league in the world.

Happily, Maccarone accepted that particular challenge, breaking the deadlock after 31 minutes when he pounced on a loose ball in the penalty area and thundered a left-foot shot past Fulham goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.

It was just about the first direct shot from either side, but it billowed the Fulham net and sent a ripple of genuine anticipation through a Riverside stadium which was by no means full with just 28,588 fans.

There is real hope on Teesside this season that the continuing financial support of chairman Steve Gibson will result in a sustained challenge – perhaps even a place in Europe.

Gibson has dug deep to supply £20million pre-season which McClaren has spent on five new players. It made Boro the third highest spenders in the league behind Manchester United and Manchester City.

And despite the serious injury incurred by Brazilian Juninho, who flew to America this weekend for an operation to reconstruct a damaged knee, McClaren will have been buoyed by a second-half performance which for the most part suggested encouraging times ahead.

It helped, of course, that Maccarone carried on in the second where he had left off in the first. Actually that's not quite right. He was even better in the second, a half which was illuminated by his quite brilliant 50th minute header.

It arrived after splendid work from former Manchester United midfielder Jonathan Greening, who weaved his way down the left-hand side before flashing over a swirling cross of which his former team-mate David Beckham would have been proud.

Maccarone's head met it like the snap of a gun hammer on a cartridge and the ball fairly bulleted past Fulham goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar into the net.

In truth Boro were in control from then on and perhaps it was McClaren's decision to substitute the Italian which upset the Boro rhythm.

Whatever, they collapsed completely in those closing minutes, the defence in utter chaos as Fulham overwhelmed them.

McLaren will be desperately angry to have lost two vital Premiership points in such circumstances - but when he reflects on the contribution of Maccarone there can only be better times ahead.

Match Information

Competition: Barclays Premier League

Date: Saturday 24 August 2002
Kick-off: 3:00pm

Venue: The Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough
Attendance: 28,588

Referee: Mike Dean

Middlesbrough

Line-up: Schwarzer; Geremi, Ehiogu, Southgate, Cooper; Stockdale, Boateng, Greening, Marinelli (Wilson 84'); Boksic (Job 79'), Maccarone (Whelan 84')

Unused substitutes: Crossley, Gavin

Fulham

Line-up: Van der Sar; Finnan, Goma, Melville, Brevett; Malbranque (Inamoto 60'), Legwinski, Davis, Boa Morte; Saha, Marlet (Sava 61')

Unused substitutes: Taylor, Ouaddou, Collins

As It Stood Table

Pos Club Pl Pts
1 Leeds United 2 6
2 Liverpool 2 6
3 Fulham 2 4
4 Arsenal 2 4
5 Chelsea 2 4
6 Everton 2 4
7 Manchester United 2 4
8 Tottenham Hotspur 2 4
9 Blackburn Rovers 2 4
10 Newcastle United 2 3
11 Charlton Athletic 2 3
12 Manchester City 2 3
13 Middlesbrough 2 2
14 Sunderland 2 1
15 Southampton 2 1
16 West Ham United 2 1
17 Aston Villa 2 0
18 West Bromwich Albion 2 0
19 Birmingham City 2 0
20 Bolton Wanderers 2 0
Middlesbrough (4-4-2)
  • 1Mark Schwarzer
  • 20Geremi
  • Ugo Ehiogu
  • 6Gareth Southgate
  • Colin Cooper
  • Robbie Stockdale
  • 7George Boateng
  • 14Jonathan Greening
  • Carlos Marinelli
  • Alen Boksic
  • 23Massimo Maccarone
Substitutes
  • 26Mark Crossley
  • Jason Gavin
  • 24Mark Wilson
  • Noel Whelan
  • 16Joseph-Desire Job
Fulham (4-4-2)
  • 1Edwin Van der Sar
  • 2Steve Finnan
  • 24Alain Goma
  • 4Andy Melville
  • 3Rufus Brevett
  • 14Steed Malbranque
  • 18Sylvain Legwinski
  • 23Sean Davis
  • 11Luis Boa Morte
  • 20Louis Saha
  • 7Steve Marlet
Substitutes
  • 12Maik Taylor
  • 25Abdeslam Ouaddou
  • 6Junichi Inamoto
  • 10John Collins
  • 9Facundo Sava