Middlesbrough 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1

Last updated : 16 August 2008 By Footymad Previewer
Middlesbrough thoroughly deserved their opening 2-1 win over big-spending Spurs at the Riverside Stadium.

It was a triumph for manager Gareth Southgate, who is rebuilding his team with the emphasis on pace.

Spurs could not complain because they lacked fire-power, with their injury-time reply an own goal by a Middlesbrough defender.

It was an entertaining match, with the onus on attacking football from the start.

There was plenty for the majority in the 32,000 crowd to enjoy, but the Spurs fans will have been bitterly disappointed over the lack of cutting edge from their team.

Before the kick-off, Boro fans gave a warm welcome to former Arsenal full-back Justin Hoyte.

The £3million new signing was completed too late for the former England Under-21 international to make his debut and his first appearance could be at Liverpool in the next match.

Spurs were well supported with the London club taking up their full allocation of 3,800 tickets. David Bentley and Luka Modric were among their big signings on parade.

Dimitar Berbatov, who has been linked with Manchester United through the close season, was on the substitute's bench.

Former Boro defender Jonathan Woodgate was also in the visiting line-up.

At the other end, Heurelho Gomes fumbled a shot by winger Stewart Downing.

Afonso Alves had a great chance to open the scoring for Middlesbrough after 18 minutes following a defence-splitting move. The ball bounced awkwardly but the striker could have made better of it with only the goalkeeper to beat.

Spurs were the first with a scoring attempt when in the ninth minute Giovani Dos Santos shot wide.

Home skipper Emanuel Pogatetz had to leave the field to have his head bandaged.

The first half was played at a terrific pace, even there were no goals to thrill a crowd well above the average of last season.

Early in the second half, Middlesbrough goalkeeper Brad Jones parried a Bentley shot.

Jermaine Jenas raised Spurs' hopes when he broke through but the skipper fell over when tackled by Huth.

When Berbatov was introduced as a substitute, Middlesbrough fans taunted Spurs' travelling contingent with cries of 'he's off to Manchester United'.

Boro finally broke the deadlock when local hero David Wheater forced the ball over the line after Alves had struck the woodwork.

The home side introduced former Spurs striker Mido in the closing stages.

The Egypt striker had only been on the field a few minutes when he took advantage of a Didier Digard pass to put his side further ahead.

In the closing seconds, a Huth own goal from a Bentley cross was too little, too late for Spurs.