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BBC Five Live's Peter Slater
reports from Pride Park
 real 14k

Derby boss Jim Smith
"We were in our rights to carry on playing"
 real 56k

Middlesbrough boss Bryan Robson
"Derby cheated"
 real 56k

Derby's Malcolm Christie
"I knew I was capable of scoring goals"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 6 September, 2000, 21:17 GMT 22:17 UK
Derby stage comeback to earn point
Alen Boksic
Alen Boksic set Boro on way before Derby comeback
Derby 3-3 Middlesbrough

Derby striker Malcolm Christie came off the bench to score a brace against Middlesbrough as Jim Smith's side produced another comeback to earn a controversial point.

It looked like Derby were on their way to being beaten comfortably after Alen Boksic, Joseph-Desire Job and Brian Deane put Middlesbrough into a 3-0 lead.

But the arrival of substitutes Christie and Georgi Kinkladze saw Derby add the missing potency to their neat passing play in the first-half.

"Everybody knows the rules - when a player goes down injured and a player deliberately kicks the ball out of play, then you give it back," added Robson. "Derby didn't do that so they cheated.
  Middlesbrough manager Bryan Robson

Christie, returning to action after recovering from viral meningitis, converted Seth Johnson's 67th minute cross with Branco Strupar adding a controversial second seven minutes from time before Christie completed the comeback.

The Middlesbrough camp were angry at Strupar's effort as they thought Derby should have played the ball back to them prior to the corner which led to the goal after the visitors had kicked into touch so Phil Stamp could receive treatment.

Earlier Derby began brightly with striker Dean Sturridge breaking clear after eight minutes but his shot was weak and wide from just outside the box.

Manager Bryan Robson's visiting side then took the lead when Boksic earned and converted a penalty after being brought down by Stefano Eranio.

There was some debate whether the offence was committed
Malcolm Christie
Derby striker Malcolm Christie
in or out of the area but Boksic did not let this worry him as he coolly slotted to the goalkeeper's right for his third goal in two games for Middlesbrough.

Boksic has not played since scoring a brace in the opening day win against Coventry due to a groin injury. This did not seem to be troubling him though as he was a continuous threat to Derby's goal until going off affter an hour.

The Croatian international created a 12th minute opening only to shoot wide. The summer signing from Lazio then gave a glimpse of his skill and poise to try and break through the Derby defence which earned his side a corner.

In between Boksic's effort, Belgian Strupar had a half-hearted penalty appeal turned down but Derby failed to properly test opposing goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer before the interval.

I thought Mr Boksic cheated on the penalty. I thought it was a nice dive
  Derby boss Jim Smith

The start of the second-half gave Derby hope of an equaliser when Eranio crossed for Deon Burton but, even though the striker met the ball well, his header was almost straight at Schwarzer who saved comfortably.

The home side's predicament worsened after 50 minutes when French midfielder Christian Karembeu broke for the visitors.

He passed for Boksic and, although he was denied by goalkeeper Mart Poom rushing out to save at feet, Cameroon international Job put in the rebound.

Nine minutes later Derby's woes increased when Stamp broke on the right and provided an unmarked Brian Deane the chance to sidefoot Middlesbrough's third.

But Christie scored twice against Middlesbrough last sesaon and had the final word.

Derby: Poom, Schnoor, Delap, Johnson, Sturridge, Burton, Elliott, Eranio, Bragstad, Strupar, Valakari. Subs: Kinkladze, Christie, Higginbotham, Oakes, Murray.

Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Fleming, Vickers, Festa, Pallister, Karembeu, Ince, Deane, Boksic, Job, Stamp. Subs: Mustoe, Campbell, Summerbell, Whelan, Gavin.

Referee: R Styles (Waterlooville)

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See also:

07 Sep 00 |  Photo Galleries
Wednesday's Premiership action - in pictures
05 Sep 00 |  Eng Prem
Charlton v Southampton preview
05 Sep 00 |  Eng Prem
Coventry v Newcastle preview
30 Aug 00 |  Middlesbrough
Campbell felt shunned at Boro
29 Aug 00 |  Middlesbrough
Boro great dies aged 49
20 Aug 00 |  Derby County
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