Wed, Dec 08, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Viduka ends Premiership goal drought

MAN OF THE MATCH Middlesbrough's Mark Viduka scored a brace on Monday, his first goals in 12 matches, to inspire his team to a 3-2 victory over Manchester City

AFP , MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND

Middlesbrough's Mark Viduka, left, is tackled by Manchester City's Sylvain Distin at The Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough, England, on Monday.

PHOTO: AP

Australia international Mark Viduka ended his 12-match Premiership goal drought in fine style on Monday as his double inspired Middlesbrough to a 3-2 victory over Manchester City.

Strike partner Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink grabbed the other to end a nine-game drought for the Dutchman after Robbie Fowler, Viduka's former fellow striker at Leeds United, had briefly pulled City level with his first goal from open play since the opening match of the season.

City substitute Bradley Wright-Phillips showed that his brother Shaun and adopted father Ian are not the only footballing talents in the family as he reduced the deficit to 3-2 by scoring on his Premiership debut with 10 minutes remaining.

Victory kept Boro in fifth position -- 11 points behind leaders Chelsea -- but well in contention for a Champions League place next season while City saw a five-match unbeaten run come to an end.

Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren was delighted.

"It was a bit nervewracking and I didn't need the last 10 minutes! It was good to get Viduka and Hasselbaink back on the scoresheet and they were great goals. We got our just reward as the players were magnificent in the second half. Considering the suspensions we had and the injuries it was a great result for us. How well we do will be down to how we keep it going," he said.

Viduka was ecstatic at ending his drought.

"It's difficult when you get into a rough patch but for our confidence it was very good for us and we worked really well as a partnership," man of the match Viduka said.

"Steve McClaren has kept the faith in us and we did the business tonight. As for the Champions League, it was very important to win, having lost the last two," he said.

City manager Kevin Keegan was despondent about the performances of both sides.

"Neither of us played very well tonight and when I watch the video I will see some of my players didn't perform as they should have done. Viduka was the difference tonight and [Stewart] Downing as well and the sooner he gets into the England squad the better.

"We gave them a game but we didn't play well. It means we are still in the bottom half of the table. We have some tough fixtures coming up but they are the only players I have fit and I have to stick with them even if they are playing badly," he said.

Boro defender Colin Cooper should have put them ahead in the ninth minute as he ran in unnoticed but his header from Downing's corner went well over the bar.

However, Boro got the goal they deserved a minute later when Downing's ball was beautifully controlled by Viduka, who dragged the ball through his legs -- fooling Richard Dunne -- and chipped cooly over James to end his worst ever goalless run in his British football career.

Viduka should have doubled the hosts' lead a few minutes later after James had blocked a Hasselbaink effort. But the Aussie's lob went over the bar having taken a deflection with James off his line.

It was virtually one-way traffic and the outstanding 20-year-old Downing showed just why he is being touted as filling the left-sided midfield role for England, his beautiful long ball finding Hasselbaink in the 30th minute.

But having passed inside to Viduka, former Boro defender Danny Mills got back to clear.

However, against the run of play, City levelled in the 39th minute as Fowler latched onto Jon Macken's flicked-on header -- having outjumped Gareth Southgate -- and shot home past Mark Schwarzer for his third goal of the campaign.

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