Wednesday 7 January 2004, 8:00pm at The Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough
Barclays Premier League
Middlesbrough
2
Job 14'; Nemeth 66'
Fulham FC
Fulham
1
Hayles 90'
Barry Hayles pulled a goal back in injury time, but it wasn't enough to stop Middlesbrough taking all three points leaving Fulham to return to London empty handed.

14' Goal

Joseph-Desire Job

66' Goal

Szilard Nemeth

3' Yellow Card

Ugo Ehiogu Card was given for a foul

90' Goal

Barry Hayles

63' Yellow Card

Sean Davis Card was given for a foul

87' Yellow Card

Martin Djetou Card was given for a foul

69' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Barry Hayles
Off:Sylvain Legwinski

0
15
30
45
60
75
90
All the attention was meant to be on Louis Saha following his furious blast at Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed but a teenage left winger called Stewart Downing stole the limelight from the French striker. 

The 19-year-old was at the heart of everything good about Middlesbrough and both the home side's goals came as a result of his incisive dead-ball kicking. Nippy, skilful and with a mouth-watering delivery from crosses and from dead-ball situations, Downing looked true class. 

Left-footed English wingers are a rare breed and Steve McClaren has real pedigree on his hands. Both goals resulted from set-plays, Joseph-Desire Job scored the first from close range and Szilard Nemeth netted the clincher with substitute Barry Hayles grabbing a consolation in injury time. 

As for Saha, who had set the scene for the match by claiming that he was "disgusted, dejected and downhearted" that Al Fayed had blocked a "chance of my lifetime" move to Manchester United, it was a miserable night with barely a sniff of goal. Ugo Ehiogu had clearly identified Saha as the dangerman, for the Middlesbrough defender caught the Frenchman with a cynical challenge from behind in the third minute and had no cause for complaint when referee Paul Durkin flourished a yellow card. Middlesbrough made early in-roads down the left flank with Downing exploiting Fulham's tentative defending. 

He had already threatened once before he again found space and delivered a teasing cross which came off Zat Knight's boot and forced Edwin van der Sar totip past the post. That pressure told in the 14th minute when Joseph-Desire Job won a fortunate corner off Knight. Downing's corner found Ehiogu unmarked - Coleman would have been fuming that Fulham allowed him such space - and he had time to bring the ball down and drivein a shot that Van der Sar could only parry up for Job to rifle into the net. After much frustration Fulham finally put together a good passing move - in fact it was superb - and only Australian keeper Brad Jones prevented themdrawing level.

 Knight began the move and, when Steed Malbranque quickly transferred the ball into Lee Clark's path, a goal beckoned but Jones, making his Premiership debut,saved with his feet to keep Boro in front. Malbranque tested Jones again from 20 yards but after those scares the home side then had two more good chances. First Job brought down Mills' long ball expertly and struck a volley but Knight made the block, then came a really bad miss by Gareth Southgate. Downing once more delivered a telling cross and the Boro captain somehow headed over from four yards out. Juninho was the next player to be wasteful when Nemeth delivered a delicious chip with the outside of his foot on to the Brazilian's head but he directed thechance straight at Van der Sar. The second half was also mostly Middlesbrough though Malbranque showed Fulham still had something left in the tank when he stepped neatly inside Downing'schallenge and rolled a tempting ball across the penalty area only to see Luis Boa Morte slice his shot horribly. 

There was another terrible miss by Boro in the 54th minute when Downing picked out Franck Queudrue with a wicked free-kick to the far post but he too headedover an empty goal. After an hour, the crowd were chanting Downing's name and he nearly earned even more adulation when Mills delivered a deep cross and the teenager hooked ina shot from an impossible angle that missed the far-post by a whisker. It was another Downing free-kick which led indirectly to Middlesbrough's second goal after 66 minutes. Van der Sar dropped the ball under some pressure, Ehiogu held off the Fulham keeper and nudged it to Southgate who squared for Nemeth to side-foot home. Malbranque, the only Fulham player who had a good game, had a deflected shot saved by Jones before Juninho raced to the other end and brought a top-qualitystop out of Van der Sar. Nemeth poked wide as Boro searched for a third then, with his first sight of goal, Saha hooked over the bar from 12 yards out. With five minutes left Downing - who else - once again burst into the box and crossed for Juninho who had only to make contact to score but the Braziliancompletely miskicked. Fulham had the last word when Mills blocked Sean Davis's shot on the line and Hayles rammed the loose ball home.

Match Information

Competition: Barclays Premier League

Date: Wednesday 7 January 2004
Kick-off: 8:00pm

Venue: The Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough
Attendance: 27,869

Referee: Paul Durkin

Middlesbrough

Line-up: Jones; Mills, Southgate, Ehiogu, Queudrue; Downing, Boateng, Juninho, Zenden; Job, Nemeth

Unused substitutes: Turnbull, Parnaby, Riggott, Doriva, Maccarone

Fulham

Line-up: Van der Sar; Melville, Knight, Djetou, Green; Malbranque, Clark, Davis, Legwinski (Hayles 69'), Boa Morte; Saha

Unused substitutes: Crossley, Hudson, Inamoto, Petta

As It Stood Table

Pos Club Pl Pts
1 Manchester United 20 49
2 Arsenal 20 46
3 Chelsea 20 42
4 Charlton Athletic 20 31
5 Liverpool 19 29
6 Newcastle United 20 29
7 Fulham 20 28
8 Southampton 20 27
9 Aston Villa 20 27
10 Birmingham City 19 26
11 Everton 20 24
12 Middlesbrough 19 24
13 Bolton Wanderers 20 23
14 Manchester City 20 22
15 Blackburn Rovers 20 22
16 Tottenham Hotspur 20 21
17 Leicester City 20 19
18 Portsmouth 20 19
19 Leeds United 20 17
20 Wolverhampton Wanderers 19 15
Middlesbrough (4-4-2)
  • 1Bradley Jones
  • 18Danny Mills
  • 6Gareth Southgate
  • Ugo Ehiogu
  • 20Franck Queudrue
  • 19Stewart Downing
  • 7George Boateng
  • Juninho
  • 7Boudewijn Zenden
  • 16Joseph-Desire Job
  • 8Szilard Nemeth
Substitutes
  • 21Ross Turnbull
  • 2Stuart Parnaby
  • 5Chris Riggott
  • 20Doriva
  • 23Massimo Maccarone
Fulham (4-5-1)
  • 1Edwin Van der Sar
  • 4Andy Melville
  • 16Zat Knight
  • 17Martin Djetou
  • 26Adam Green
  • 4Steed Malbranque
  • 10Lee Clark
  • 23Sean Davis
  • 5Sylvain Legwinski
  • 11Luis Boa Morte
  • 8Louis Saha
Substitutes
  • 12Mark Crossley
  • 5Mark Hudson
  • 6Junichi Inamoto
  • 26Bobby Petta
  • 15Barry Hayles