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The BBC's Peter Slater
"Both sides are now safe"
 real 28k

Saturday, 15 April, 2000, 19:27 GMT 20:27 UK
Inspired Coventry beat Boro
Whelan
Whelan was thwarted brilliantly by Schwarzer
Coventry 2-1 Middlesbrough

Robbie Keane produced an inspired performance to sweep away the doom and gloom hanging over Highfield Road and revive Coventry's hopes of a top 10 finish in the Premiership.

Gordon Strachan's side had gone into the game with a dismal record of seven defeats in their previous nine games - but it hardly showed in their general performance.

Keane was back to his brilliant best, scoring one goal and creating the other as he tormented the Boro rearguard throughout.

The irresistible Keane and Noel Whelan linked up well in attack and caused plenty of problems for the Boro back four.



Robbie is finding his way back after his injury. He scored a wonderful goal, he took it really well

Coventry manager Gordon Strachan
In midfield Gary McAllister gave another cultured performance which belied his 35 years with a more-than-able helping hand from rookie John Eustace.

After the match Keane's manager Gordon Strachan said: "Robbie has been missing for a while and it's been hard for him, although I never felt there was a problem with his mental strength.

"He is finding his way back after his injury. He scored a wonderful goal, he took it really well, and he and Noel Whelan did all right together up front.

"But those people who have seen Robbie all season will know that there is still more to come in his locker."

Robson is to be applauded for going into the game with a three pronged attack but Brian Deane, Hamilton Ricard and Andy Campbell had precious few opportunities.



Keane was a thorn in the side of Boro
There was little to enthuse about in the opening 15 minutes, but then Coventry carved out the first clear cut opening of the game.

A long ball from Gary Breen picked out Whelan and left him with a clear run on goal, however Boro goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer was able to beat out his eventual shot.

The home side suffered a setback when Chippo limped out of the action after 26 minutes to be replaced by David Burrows, allowing Froggatt to adopt the more forward role.

But it needed a helping hand from Ince to enable Strachan's out-of-form side to break the deadlock in the 33rd minute. Keane played a one-two with Whelan and he found himself clear of the Boro defence.

Schwarzer managed to parry away his left-footed shot but the rebound struck the unfortunate Ince who could only help the ball over his own goal-line.

Eustace twice came close to grabbing the all important second goal for Coventry in the first six minutes of the second half.

But it fell to Keane to double the lead on 61 minutes.

Whelan sent him clear and he stroked the ball wide of Schwarzer into the corner of the net.

However, within three minutes Christian Ziege gave Boro a life-line from the penalty spot after Andy Campbell was brought down in the box by Eustace.

Teams:

Coventry: Hedman, Telfer, Breen, Hendry, Froggatt, Chippo, Eustace, McAllister, Hadji, Keane, Whelan. Subs: Ogrizovic, Burrows, Quinn, Williams, Zuniga.

Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Fleming, Vickers, Festa, Ziege, Mustoe, Ince, Summerbell, Campbell, Ricard, Deane. Subs: Beresford, Stamp, Juninho, Stockdale, Gavin.

Referee: N Barry (Scunthorpe)

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