Middlesbrough 5 Bolton Wanderers 1

Last updated : 20 January 2007 By Footymad Previewer
Middlesbrough ran riot against Bolton Wanderers, putting on their best display of the season and Boro can forget about being involved in a relegation fight on this form.

Bolton, on the other hand, can forget about a European place unless they show a marked improvement in the months ahead.

Boro manager Gareth Southgate must have been delighted with the performance of his team, especially in the first half when they shook Bolton with a 4-1 lead.

Bolton manager Sam Allardyce, however, will have been terribly disappointed with his side. The defence was cut open time and time again in the first half and there was never any chance that the visitors would recover.

Allardyce moved down to the technical area early in the second half in a bid to lift his team, but it made little difference.

Middlesbrough, who were close to a relegation battle a few weeks ago, have struck a rich vein of scoring form with 15 goals in the past five games.

Boro had a number of outstanding individual displays including a two-goal contribution from striker Mark Viduka.

There is constant speculation over the future of the Australia international, whose contract runs out at the end of the season. Several clubs are interested in the highly talented striker, but there is no doubt Middlesbrough fans would like him to stay at the Riverside.

Allardyce, no doubt, had some harsh words to say to his team during the interval and after the game.

Middlesbrough opened in blistering style with three goals in the opening 23 minutes. Full-back Abel Xavier who was involved in the two opening goals. The Portuguese international contributed to the first and scored the second.

In the 15th minute Stewart Downing sent over a left-wing cross. Xavier headed against the base of a post and then saw the ball strike Bolton veteran Gary Speed for an unlucky own goal.

Five minutes later Downing and Xavier again combined. Downing provided a cross and Xavier nodded a powerful header into the net. A delighted Xavier raced into the arms of Southgate on the touchline.

A brilliant header by the defender, but Allardyce would have been unhappy over the slack marking.

Midway through the first half Lee Cattermole flicked the ball on to Vidouka for the striker to score a third goal at the far post.

Bolton immediately hit back to score a consolation goal when their skipper Kevin Nolan fired a low shot into a corner of the net.

There was never any prospect of a Bolton fightback and Middlesbrough piled on the agony by increasing their lead two minutes before the break.

Local hero Downing enjoyed his best game of the season and brought the crowd to their feet when he left Jussi Jaaskelainen helpless us with a superb shot.

The Bolton players looked shell shocked as they walked off the field at the interval.

Bolton's nightmare continued in the second half when striker El Hadji Diouf was sent off in the 67th minute. Diouf made a remark to referee Alan Wiley and the official immediately flashed a red card.

Six minutes from time Viduka completed the rout with his second goal of the game, as Boro enjoyed a superb afternoon.