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Tuesday, 19 February, 2002, 22:01 GMT
Boro sink Fulham
Middlesbrough's Alen Boksic scores his seventh goal of the season against Fulham
Alen Boksic sets Boro on the way
Middlesbrough 2-1 Fulham
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Middlesbrough further distanced themselves from the relegation struggle as Steve McClaren's side beat Fulham to rise to 11th place in the Premiership table.

Boro's win sees them move ahead of rivals Sunderland, but more importantly they are six points clear of third-from-bottom Blackburn.

By God, the character and guts and determination of those players is an absolute credit
Boro manager Steve McClaren

Steve Marlet's second-half equaliser for Fulham cancelled out Alen Boksic's 27th minute strike, before Szilard Nemeth grabbed the winner for Boro 13 minutes from the end.

Ugo Ehiogu - whose header sent Boro into the FA Cup quarter-finals on Saturday - also hit the bar for the home side in the second period.

Boro have struggled for goals all season, but in the strike partnership of Boksic and Benito Carbone - playing together for the first time - McClaren has at last got a pair of potent forwards at his disposal.

It was Boksic who had the first chance of the game with four minutes gone.

The Croatian picked up the ball from Noel Whelan and cut past Alain Goma into the box.

  Match facts
27 mins: Alen Boksic gives Middlesbrough the lead
56 mins: Steve Marlet heads home Fulham's equaliser
77 mins: Szilard Nemeth comes off the bench to grab Boro's winner

And after Sean Davis blocked his shot, Rufus Brevett and keeper Edwin van der Sar did just enough to put Jonathan Greening off at the far post.

Boro goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer was called upon to make the game's first save on 12 minutes after Steed Malbranque chanced his arm from distance.

When Boro finally did take the lead there was a hint of controversy about Boksic's goal.

Fulham's Steve Marlet
Marlet's equaliser briefly revived Fulham
Greening and skipper Paul Ince combined to feed Carbone and he in turn played in Boksic.

The Croatian hesitated temporarily in anticipation of an offside flag, but then raced clear to lift the ball delicately over the advancing Van der Sar.

Fulham almost hit back when Carbone was penalised for a foul on Davis 20 yards out - but Malbranque curled his free-kick just wide of Schwarzer's right post.

Marlet should have equalised when he was allowed to run on to an aimless long ball unopposed and round Schwarzer.

We tried all the time to come back into the game, but that's football.
Fulham manager Jean Tigana

But he missed the target from a tight angle.

The equaliser finally arrived on 56 minutes when Gareth Southgate was forced to concede a corner after Brevett picked out Marlet at the near post.

Collins curled the ball in to the front post where Goma flicked on for Marlet to rise unopposed to head home.

But the substitute Nemeth arrived to clinch it for Boro with great aplomb and leave Fulham pointless.

Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Stockdale, Southgate, Ehiogu, Queudrue, Greening, Mustoe (Murphy 61), Ince, Carbone (Windass 70), Whelan (Nemeth 70), Boksic. Subs not used: Crossley, Gavin.

Booked: Queudrue.

Fulham: Van der Sar, Finnan, Melville, Goma, Brevett, Legwinski, Davis, Malbranque, Collins (Saha 80), Marlet, Hayles. Subs not used: Harley, Taylor, Ouaddou, Willock.

Booked: Legwinski, Saha.

Attendance: 26,235.

Referee: D Gallagher (Oxfordshire).

BBC Sport's Peter Slater
"Middlesbrough are now officially a mid-table team"
Boro boss Steve McLaren
"It was a roller coaster game"
Boro defender Gareth Southgate
"That result gives us a bit of breathing space"
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.


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