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Middlesbrough 1-0 Derby

By Owen Phillips

Tuncay also scored the winner against Derby at Pride Park

Middlesbrough eased their relegation fears with victory over rock-bottom Derby thanks to Tuncay's cool finish.

Tuncay ran on to George Boateng's flick to shoot low into the corner and pile further misery on a Rams side who have won just one league game this season.

Boro had several good chances to double their lead after the break but the excellent Roy Carroll made fine saves to deny Jeremie Aliadiere and Boateng.

The visitors rallied late on and Rob Earnshaw almost headed an equaliser.

But the Welsh striker's late effort apart, Derby never looked like ending their dreadful winless Premier League run which now stands at 25 games.

Ross Fletcher BBC Radio Derby

For half an hour they frustrated Gareth Southgate's side and up until Tuncay's strike, most of the action involved the respective physios.

Derby's Mile Sterjovski was forced out of the action after failing to recover from a no-holds barred challenge from Lee Cattermole.

And Sterjovski's replacement, Emanuel Villa, was lucky referee Martin Atkinson did not see his lunge on Gary O'Neil just before the break.

Robbie Savage, Andrew Taylor and O'Neil all required treatment in a stop-start opening period, but although the commitment could not be questioned, the quality certainly could.

Stewart Downing was the rare exception and provided the few moments of class.

His trickery saw him tease and torment Andy Todd and fire in a stinging low cross which Savage almost diverted into his own net.

David Wheater, called up by England earlier in the week, came closest to giving the home side the lead but the impressive Carroll reacted quickly to clear.

The pressure told when Boro went ahead on 32 minutes and it was no surprise that Downing was involved in the build-up.

The England winger found Boateng and the latter's clever pass freed Tuncay, who cut in the from the left and fired home his sixth goal of the season

Derby's only noteworthy chance saw Kenny Miller shoot 20 yards wide after a neat move.

Boro began the second half with much greater purpose and should have put the game out of sight.

Aliadiere twice went close, forcing a fine blocked save from Carroll and then heading narrowly wide.

Carroll then made the save of the match, a stunning one-handed stop to deny Boateng.

But Boro were almost made to pay for their sloppy finishing as Derby made a game of it in the last quarter.

Substitute Hossam Ghaly showed glimpses of his undoubted talent and the Rams had two great chances to snatch a point in the dying moments.

First, Earnshaw headed wide after Ghaly's fine crossfield pass caused havoc in the home defence.

And Miller then picked the wrong option and ended up shooting tamely at Mark Schwarzer following a swift counter-attack.

  • Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate:
    "We only got the one goal and then in the last 25 minutes of the game we subconsciously decided to sit on our lead.

    "We had a couple of chances to finish the game off but they kept plugging away and only being one goal ahead gave them the chance to get back into it.

    "We didn't really play in the second half. Had we got a second goal I think we would have ended up winning quite comfortably but we held on and it was an important win because we have some difficult games to come."

  • Derby manager Paul Jewell:
    "In the first half we were rubbish but in the second half we passed the ball well.

    "We controlled the last 25 minutes and could have snatched a point. We had two great chances and I think they were glad to hear the final whistle.

    "We didn't start the game well and didn't play the conditions. Rob Earnshaw should have done better with the chance he had but I'll never have a go at a player for missing chances.

    "Hossam Ghaly ran the game when he came on. He was terrific and showed what a good player he is."

    Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Young (Shawky 65), Wheater, Pogatetz, Taylor, O'Neil, Cattermole, Boateng, Downing, Aliadiere (Alves 86), Sanli (Johnson 86).
    Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Grounds.

    Booked: Cattermole, Sanli.

    Goals: Sanli 32.

    Derby: Carroll, Todd, Moore, Leacock, McEveley, Sterjovski (Villa 39), Savage (Ghaly 62), Jones (Pearson 62), Lewis, Earnshaw, Miller.
    Subs Not Used: Price, Robert.

    Booked: Savage.

    Att: 25,649.

    Ref: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).

    BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Middlesbrough's Stewart Downing 7.56 (on 90 minutes).

    Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

    see also
    Saturday's football photos
    22 Mar 08 |  Football
    Premier League as it happened
    22 Mar 08 |  Premier League
    How to watch Match of the Day
    08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day

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