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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 January 2007, 18:42 GMT
Middlesbrough 5-1 Bolton
By Paul Fletcher

Abel Xavier (left) and Stewart Downing celebrate Middlesbrough's victory
Xavier (left) converted a Downing cross
Stewart Downing scored one goal and created three more as Middlesbrough thrashed Bolton, who had El-Hadji Diouf sent off for foul and abusive language.

An Abel Xavier header from a Downing cross struck Gary Speed and went in for the first goal before the defender headed home a cross from the winger.

Kevin Nolan pulled a goal back from 18 yards before Mark Viduka volleyed home another superb Downing cross.

Downing scored from 25 yards before Viduka struck from close range.

Middlesbrough have now won all three of their Premiership fixtures in 2007, while all Bolton have to show for their league endeavours this year is a point from their goalless draw at home to Manchester City last weekend.

It is a far cry from the five straight Premiership wins with which Bolton ended 2006 - a record that saw boss Sam Allardyce named December's manager of the month.

Bolton had the first chance of the game - Mark Schwarzer saving a well-struck shot from Speed - but Boro were soon in control when Speed inadvertently knocked the ball into his own goal from two yards with just six minutes gone.

Downing had provided the cross for Xavier - and did so again four minutes later.

606 DEBATE: Give your thoughts on the match

Portuguese defender Xavier still had a lot to do to beat Jaaskelainen with a header from 14 yards but powered the ball superbly into the top corner.

Bolton right-back Nicky Hunt was struggling to prevent Downing from exerting a telling influence on the match.

Hunt seemed to that have limited the young winger's options after 23 minutes but Downing superbly crossed the ball with the outside of his left foot.

The cross was flighted over the Bolton defence and converted on the volley by a completely unmarked Viduka at the far post.

The match appeared beyond a Bolton team who had not really found any sort of rhythm - but skipper Nolan, returning after a rib injury, quickly reduced the deficit.

A long throw from Ivan Campo broke to Kevin Davies, who slid the ball for Nolan to intelligently place the ball beyond Schwarzer from the edge of the area.

Bolton chose not to celebrate, instead returning quickly to their positions in a show of intent.

But it was Boro who continued to dominate, repeatedly carving open the Bolton defence.

Viduka twice created space for Yakubu with superbly lay-offs but the Nigerian missed the target each time.

There was no such problem for Downing closer to the break when, with Bolton sitting off him, he crashed the ball past Jaaskelainen with his weaker right foot.

Davies should have reduced the arrears in first-half injury time but shot wide from 10 yards.

Allardyce withdrew the tormented Hunt at the break, Ricardo Gardner coming on, and later brought the attack-minded Andranik Teymourian for Speed.

But Boro continued to possess the greater threat - with Downing drilling a free-kick over the bar and Yakubu again missing the target.

A miserable afternoon for the visiting team disintegrated further when a frustrated Diouf was handed a straight red after abusing referee Alan Wiley.

And their misery was complete when Lee Cattermole got the better of Gardner and pulled the ball back for Viduka to score his second of the afternoon.

  • Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate on Stewart Downing's display:
  • "It'll do him the world of good. Sometimes he doesn't realise how good he is. If he's in any doubt he just has to watch a video of the game.

    "They changed the full-back at half-time which was a compliment and he was still a threat in the second half.

    "I'm delighted because he doesn't realise what a threat he is."

  • Bolton boss Sam Allardyce on El-Hadji Diouf's red card for dissent:
  • "I've no complaints about the score, we got exactly what we deserved, or the red card.

    "What he said doesn't make any difference because it's not going to get changed.

    "We were out of it and the last thing we'd want is to lose another key player via suspension through stupidity."

    Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Xavier, Woodgate, Pogatetz, Taylor, Cattermole (Morrison 88), Boateng, Arca, Downing (Euell 89), Yakubu (Christie 82), Viduka.
    Subs Not Used: Jones, Davies.

    Booked: Boateng.

    Goals: Speed 6 og, Xavier 10, Viduka 23, Downing 43, Viduka 84.

    Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Hunt (Gardner 46), Faye, Meite, Ben Haim, Davies (Vaz Te 77), Nolan, Campo, Speed (Teymourian 59), Diouf, Anelka.
    Subs Not Used: Walker, Giannakopoulos.

    Sent Off: Diouf (66).

    Booked: Campo, Nolan, Davies.

    Goals: Nolan 25.

    Att: 24,614

    Ref: A Wiley (Staffordshire).

    Saturday's football photos
    20 Jan 07 |  Football


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