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Sunday, 16 February, 2003, 23:05 GMT
Villa thrash Boro
Aston Villa striker Darius Vassell scored twice
Vassell at the double for Villa
Middlesbrough 2-5 Aston Villa

Aston Villa recorded their first away win of the season and ended Middlesbrough's unbeaten home record with a crushing victory.

Villa's attack-minded tactics paid handsome dividends with the impressive Darius Vassell tormenting a hapless Boro defence.

Vassell opened the scoring and Joey Gudjonsson netted on his debut following a glaring howler by Mark Schwarzer before Boro staged a first-half comeback.

But the home side's efforts - goals from Massimo Maccarone and Jonathan Greening - came to nothing as they were ripped apart by a rampant Villa after the break.

Key incidents
24 mins: Vassell gives Villa the lead
31 mins: Gudjonsson scores on Villa debut
33 mins: Maccarone reduces deficit
35 mins: Greening equalises
47 mins: Barry nets Villa's third
81 mins: Vassell scores second
90 mins: Dublin completes the rout

Gareth Barry weighed in with his first goal for nearly two years, Vassell scored a second and Dion Dublin completed the rout late on.

It was an evening of league debuts at the Riverside, but one which 18-year-old Andrew Davies will want to forget.

He was thrust into the Boro defence in the absence of flu victim Gareth Southgate and was given a Premiership baptism of fire.

Villa boss Taylor handed loan signing Gudjonsson his first start in attack alongside Vassell.

Middlesbrough's Joseph-Desire Job holds off Aston Villa debutant Joey Gudjonsson
Gudjonsson (right) impressed on his debut

And it was striker Vassell who provided the early breakthrough, pouncing on a defensive mistake by Stuart Parnaby to strike home the opener from 18 yards.

Not to be upstaged, Gudjonsson scored Villa's second seven minutes later.

It owed much as much to an uncharacteristic error by Mark Schwarzer in the Boro goal as to Gudjonsson's thunderous strike.

We are trying to get Christie and Riggott - and you could see why tonight

Steve McClaren
Boro manager

He unleashed a powerful 35-yard free-kick that caught Schwarzer by surprise, going through the goalkeeper and into the net.

Two goals down in the first half hour, lesser teams would have folded, but Boro's riposte was swift.

They reduced the deficit courtesy of Italian striker Maccarone, who headed home Joseph-Desire Job's flick-on.

Middlesbrough striker Massimo Maccarone heads home sixth Premiership goal of season
Maccarone hits back at his critics with a goal
Buoyed by the goal, Boro hit Villa with a second, Greening tucking the ball past Peter Enckleman to restore parity.

In what would have capped a remarkable first half for the hosts, Job came within inches of giving Boro the advantage, but his header sailed just wide.

Despite the glut of goals, neither manager will have been pleased with the quality of the defending on display.

I'm quite excited with Gudjonsson - he gives us an edge in midfield we have not had all season

Graham Taylor
Villa manager

Yet any half-time rant by Boro boss Steve McClaren failed to have its desired impact, his side conceding straight after the restart.

A rooted Boro backline could only watch as Barry brought the ball under control and planted a left-foot shot past Schwarzer.

Former Villa midfielder George Boateng, back in the Boro line-up, was lucky to stay on the field after a crude challenge on goalscorer Gudjonsson.

Matters simply worsened for the hosts when Vassell netted his second of the evening after good work by JLloyd Samuel.

And their misery was compounded in injury time when Dublin rose adroitly to meet Barry's cross to head home Villa's fifth.


Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Queudrue, Davies, Vidmar, Parnaby, Greening, Boateng, Geremi, Job (Murphy 69), Maccarone, Nemeth.
Subs Not Used: Downing, Crossley, Cooper, Wilkshire.

Booked: Boateng.

Aston Villa: Enckelman, Delaney, Mellberg, Johnsen, Samuel, Hitzlsperger, Gudjonsson (Hendrie 90), Barry, Vassell, Dublin, Moore (Staunton 78).
Subs Not Used: Postma, De la Cruz, Crouch.

Attendance: 27,546

Referee: D Gallagher (Oxfordshire).

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BBC Sport's Peter Slater
"A crazy result"
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