Aliadiere Out For Fulham Repeat!

Last updated : 14 April 2009 By Boro Mad

2007/8 BORO 1 FULHAM 0

BORO: Schwarzer, Young, Wheater, Huth, Pogatetz, O'Neil, Rochemback, Arca, Downing, Aliadiere (Boateng 76), Lee (Alves 57).
Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Mido, Grounds.

FULHAM: Niemi, Stalteri, Baird, Hangeland, Konchesky, Davies, Murphy, Bullard, Andreasen, Kamara (Dempsey 46), Nevland (McBride 64).
Subs Not Used: Keller, Volz, Bocanegra.

Att: 26,885

Jeremie Aliadiere's early strike proved enough for Middlesbrough to all but banish their relegation fears on a day which saw the long-awaited debut of Brazilian Afonso Alves as a second half substitute.
It was hardly the kind of encounter to have Premier League fans in Beijing or Dubai slavering in anticipation, but the 57th-minute arrival of Alves at least lent the afternoon some of the required global appeal.
More important for Boro boss Gareth Southgate were three hard-earned points which lifted them above Kevin Keegan's Newcastle and further clear of the drop zone.
French striker Aliadiere sprung the visitors' offside trap to fire under Antti Niemi from a tight angle, capping a bright start from the home side in which defender Robert Huth also came close.
But as the afternoon progressed Boro toiled, and even the arrival of £12million man Alves could not provide the necessary sparkle as Fulham grew in confidence and had chances through Danny Murphy and Paul Konchesky.
Fears that Boro may feel the pressure in a game they really had to win were banished by a bright start in which Downing forced a first-minute corner which Huth flashed just wide.
The home side were full of life, with Paul Stalteri forced to shepherd the ball back to Niemi under pressure from Dong Gook Lee, and Downing lofting in a second corner which Huth this time headed over the bar.
Boro took the lead in the 11th minute when Aliadiere, timing his run to perfection, ran onto a Gary O'Neil through-ball and cut into the right side of the box before firing low under Niemi from a tight angle.
The busy O'Neil sent a dangerous cross into the box in the 17th minute which was cleared out for a corner by Chris Baird, and from the resulting set-piece Huth came close again with another header over the bar.
Shaken Fulham were forced to resort to long-range efforts to get back on level terms with Erik Nevland firing harmlessly over the bar in the 19th minute after being teed up by Jimmy Bullard.
The Cottagers belatedly began to press with Emanuel Pogatetz's failure to deal with Konchesky's cross winning the visitors their first corner, from which Murphy's effort was scrambled around the post by Schwarzer.
Aliadiere almost continued his productive afternoon when he ran through the Fulham defence in the 29th minute before firing an ambitious low shot straight at Niemi.
Davies came close for Fulham in the 32nd minute when he was set up by Diomansy Kamara and he turned and fired a rising shot in the box which flashed just wide of the diving Schwarzer's right-hand post.
Lively Davies posed more problems as the half drew to a close with Pogatetz forced to get in a last-ditch clearance in the Boro box, while the home side laboured in their bid to increase their lead.
Boro started the second half well and won another early corner, Downing's set-piece once again finding the head of Huth who this time directed a powerful header which was saved by Niemi.
The visitors' indiscipline at the back was presenting Boro plenty of chances around the box but as long as Boro failed to grab the second goal there remained the very real possibility of Fulham drawing level.
The equaliser almost came in the 56th minute when Julio Arca hauled down Clint Dempsey 25 yards out on the right and Konchesky hit a curling left-foot free-kick which Schwarzer got down well to save.
After O'Neil had poked an effort at Niemi at the other end in the 57th minute, Alves made his long-awaited Boro debut, replacing the ineffective Lee to rapturous acclaim.
Dempsey fired just wide for the visitors, who continued to grow in confidence, and Leon Andreasen forced another save out of Schwarzer with a 25-yard attempt in the 67th minute.
Alone up front, Alves did not have so much as a touch in his first 20 minutes of Premier League action as Boro gave the distinct impression of being happy to hang on for the points.