Middlesbrough 1 Aston Villa 1

Last updated : 16 May 2009 By Footymad Previewer
Ailing Middlesbrough's survival battle will be decided on the final day of the Premier League season.

It is possible that the Teessiders could pull off the Great Escape, but the odds are firmly stacked against them.

They now realistically face the prospect of life in the Championship after 11 consecutive seasons in the top-flight.

Turkey international Sanli Tuncay raised their hopes with a brilliant goal early in the game, but Aston Villa hit back to level through John Carew in the second half.

Middlesbrough began the game in desperate need of three points against a side they beat last November.

Tuncay celebrated his player of the year award before the kick-off with a splendid goal after 14 minutes.

Tuncay beat Brad Friedel with an overhead kick to give the home side a tremendous fillip.

After 30 minutes, however, Middlesbrough suffered a cruel blow when skipper Stewart Downing was brought down heavily by a Stiliyan Petrov tackle.

Downing immediately signalled that he was hurt and play was held up for several minutes while he received treatment.

Downing limped to the touchline for further treatment and returned after a few minutes' absence.

But it was obvious he could not continue and there was the sad sight of a local hero being stretchered off.

The England international could be transferred in the summer and Middlesbrough fans recognise this.

With the prospect that they could have seen his last appearance in a Boro shirt, the £15million-rated winger was given a standing ovation.

It was proof of the popularity of a player, who put aside transfer thoughts to play a part in the club's survival battle.

Villa were very disappointing in the first half. There was no threat in attack and manager Martin O'Neill must have been bitterly disappointed with the performance of his team.

There was no doubt O'Neill had delivered a dressing room rollicking and his players emerged a stronger team.

The question was could Middlesbrough hold on to their lead to keep survival hopes.

Villa, however, began to play with more determination with skipper Gareth Barry and James Milner both booked for fouls in the space of minute.

The Midlands club then drew level to round off determined pressure. Carew took advantage of a bad clearance by substitute Marlon King to score his 14th goal of the season.

Shortly after, Villa had a chance to take the lead when central defender David Wheater misjudged the flight of the ball.

Ashley Young darted forward but goalkeeper Brad Jones retrieved the situation by diving at his feet.

But overall it was a fair result as Middlesbrough played the better football in the first half before Villa improved after the break.