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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 September 2007, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Middlesbrough 2-0 Birmingham
By John May

Middlesbrough defender David Wheater
Wheater's goal set Boro on their way
Middlesbrough claimed a deserved second Premier League win of the season, seeing off Birmingham at the Riverside.

David Wheater opened his account for the campaign with a powerful header from Andrew Taylor's cross.

Stewart Downing took advantage of woeful Birmingham defending when he was left in acres of space to slot home George Boateng's knock-down.

Birmingham offered little in attack, until late substitute Gary McSheffrey's shot shaved the outside of a post.

Boro opened the brighter of the sides in front of the usual swathes of empty seats at the Riverside, and it was little surprise when they took the lead.

Birmingham signally failed to clear a corner and Andrew Taylor picked up the ball on the left and drove on, brushing aside Sebastian Larsson's powder-puff challenge to provide the perfect cross for Wheater to power home a header.

Despite falling behind, it took Birmingham some time to stir themselves into action on a soporific afternoon by the lazy Riverside.

When they did Cameron Jerome opted to shoot when Mikael Forssell was better placed, giving Mark Schwarzer a comfortable save.

Boro's Stuart Downing
Downing added Boro's second

Referee Rob Styles returned to action after his enforced break and kept his cards trousered until the 33rd minute when he had little option but to produce the yellow to Fabrice Muamba for his challenge on Julio Arca.

Boro scored their long-threatened second, thanks to some shocking defending from Birmingham.

Taylor's deep cross found Boateng unchallenged at the far post and he nodded the ball down for Downing - who would only have found more space in the stands - to slot home from eight yards.

Birmingham almost gift-wrapped a third when Radhi Jaidi knocked a back-pass past Taylor who had to scramble to knock the ball into touch as Aliadiere closed in.

Boro carved the Birmingham defence open, with Arca flashing an unchallenged header wide, and Aliadiere running into space behind the back four, only to be denied by Taylor.

In desperation, Birmingham boss Steve Bruce threw on three substitutes at once.

Almost immediately, they created an opening with Olivier Kapo's shot deflecting off Jonathan Woodgate inches wide of the post, but their luck was summed up when the referee even failed to award them a corner.

Only some last-ditch defending kept Boro at bay, with Liam Ridgewell blocking Aliadiere at close range and Stephen Kelly scrambling Luke Young's shot off the line.

Aliadiere and Mido both showed excellent movement and awareness in leading the Boro line, and the Frenchman was denied a deserved goal by Taylor's sharp save.

McSheffrey injected some life into Birmingham and provided Schwarzer with a late alarm with a run and shot which shaved the outside of the post.


  • Boro boss Gareth Southgate:
    "That was spot-on, I couldn't have asked any more from my players, we set about it the right way.

    "I was delighted we didn't take our foot off the gas, and we kept going forward while not conceding many chances to them.

    "Our work ethic and discipline was very good and that gave us the platform to play some exciting football."

  • Birmingham manager Steve Bruce:
    "We were lucky to get away with being beaten by just two goals, I won't give you any waffle, we were absolutely hopeless.

    "It was an awful display, we got our backsides kicked and there's no doubt the best side won.

    "I don't think there are any of my players who come out of that with any credit, apart from Cameron Jerome."


    Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Young, Woodgate, Wheater, Taylor, Boateng, Rochemback (Cattermole 82), Arca, Downing, Mido (Lee 87), Aliadiere (Sanli 84).
    Subs Not Used: Jones, Hines.

    Booked: Mido.

    Goals: Wheater 12, Downing 37.

    Birmingham: Maik Taylor, Kelly, Jaidi, Ridgewell, Parnaby, Kapo, Muamba (Nafti 57), Djourou, Larsson (McSheffrey 56), Forssell (O'Connor 56), Jerome.
    Subs Not Used: Kingson, Sadler.

    Booked: Muamba, Nafti, Kapo.

    Att: 22,920

    Referee: Rob Styles (Hampshire).

    SEE ALSO
    Premier League as it happened
    01 Sep 07 |  Premier League
    Saturday's football photos
    01 Sep 07 |  Football


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