Vfb Stuttgart 1 Middlesbrough 2

Last updated : 16 February 2006 By Footymad Previewer
Middlesbrough made it three wins in a week as they beat Stuttgart 2-1 in an impressive UEFA Cup display in the Gottlieb Daimler Stadion.

Just 12 days after producing an abysmal performance in the 4-0 home defeat to Aston Villa, Boro produced one of their best displays of the season to see off the out-of-sorts German outfit.

And following on from the FA Cup win against Coventry and the amazing Premiership success over Chelsea, Steve McClaren's stock has risen considerably on Teesside in a very short space of time.

They took the lead in the 20th minute after an element of good fortune. Jose Fernando Meira's casual clearance ricocheted off the outstanding George Boateng. The ball bounced kindly for Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink whose powerful drive proved to be too much for Timo Hildebrand in the Stuttgart goal.

The goal visibly knocked the German side out of their stride and they found it difficult to lift themselves with Jon-Dahl Tomasson and Jesper Gronkjaer shadows of their former selves.

Boro coped comfortably until half-time and made the perfect start to the second period. Boateng burst down the wing 55 seconds after the restart and crossed for Stuart Parnaby to fire home from ten yards out.

Thomas Hitzlsperger tried his luck from 35 yards out but his shot sailed over the bar but Stuttgart were finding it difficult to pass to each other as the home fans gave them the bird.

Another Stuttgart mistake let in Stewart Downing in the 55th minute and he set up Hasselbaink who beat a defender before seeing his shot saved by the legs of Hildebrand.

Downing then fired a weak shot straight at the keeper as Stuttgart threatened to capitulate.

Boro appeared to be easing to a comfortable victory but Stuttgart finally lifted themselves in the closing stages.

A good run and cross by Gronkjaer ended with the former Chelsea man finding Danijel Ljuboja but the Serbia & Montenegro international headed straight at Mark Schwarzer.

However, with five minutes left, Boro conceded their first goal in Europe this season when Ljubola blasted a free-kick from the edge of the penalty area past the outstretched hand of Schwarzer and into the net.

It heralded a late surge by Stuttgart as they produced their best spell of the match but, despite a few scrambles, Boro held on to take a one-gaol advantage into next week's return leg at the Riverside Stadium.