Sammy Ameobi celebrates his Boro debut goal - Photo by North News

Sammy Ameobi made his Boro debut in a starting line-up showing five changes from the team that lost to Chelsea.

Ameobi came in for Faris Haroun, Seb Hines replaced Andre Bikey and Kieron Dyer and Josh McEachran returned as Rhys Williams dropped to the bench, as was Curtis Main, who was replaced by Ishmael Miller. Haroun and Muzzy Carayol missed out altogether.

The first shot of the game came after 27 seconds, a low, fizzing effort despatched by Craig Bellamy from close on 30 yards. It was always going wide.

Boro's first effort might have brought a goal as Grant Leadbitter whipped over a free-kick from out on the left and Ameobi made a good run unchecked but headed over from nine yards.

Boro haven't scored too many early goals this season but they opened the scoring just short of the 13-minute mark.

Kieron Dyer and Scott McDonald congratulate Ismael Miller on his cross for Dyer's first Boro goal - Photo by North News

Advancing just right of centre, Scott McDonald chipped a well-weighted ball to his left and picked out Miller. He had options and chose to turn his marker and advance to the goal-line before pulling back a low ball that set up Kieron Dyer to tap in for his first goal in Boro colours and his first league goal for six years.

Four minutes later the roof almost lifted off the stadium as Boro went two up with a classy goal on his debut from Sammy Ameobi.

Supplied by McDonald he attacked the City penalty area just right of centre. Quick footwork took him in between two defenders and he wasted no time in lashing a fierce shot almost through David Marshall.

The two goalscorers had created a new club record as the 21st and 22nd different scorers in a season, more than ever before.

A modicum of confidence had crept back into Boro's game and there was meaningful fluidity in their attacks.

Cardiff's first corner put Boro under pressure, Steele did well to punch away from under his bar but the ball fell to Peter Whittingham. The City skipper cracked in a first time shot from 12 yards and Steele produced an excellent save to tip over.

Breaking up another City attack, Boro built from the back. Ameobi played long to McDonald and he jumped high to flick a header to Miller, who advanced from the halfway line. Approaching the penalty area after a strong run his touch let his down. He still managed to pull over a cross but it didn't quite find a Boro shirt.

In the final minute of the half a backheel from Miller set Ameobi away. Running on the diagonal inside the City half he picked out McDonald. The Aussie controlled, took his time and shot. His effort deflected off the back of Ameobi and Marshall was forced to back pedal and tip over.

After an entertaining 45 minutes, Boro's players deserved the rich applause they received as they left the field at half-time.

Half-time: Middlesbrough 2 Cardiff City 0

Mackay made a change during the break, Ben Nugent replacing Kevin McNaughton.

City's shape remained pretty much the same but they upped the tempo and enjoyed a lot of the ball in the early exchanges of the second half.

It didn't take Boro long to settle and Dyer went close with a low drive from the edge of the area.

Ameobi was turning in a performance that was pleasing on the eye. Never hurried, he always looked in control and was playing in a style reminiscent of Kanu, with crowd-pleasing ball skills.

But midway through the second half City pulled one back when a left-wing corner wasn't defended and Aron Gunnarsson was allowed just about a free header from the edge of the six-yard box.

The Bluebirds went for a quick equaliser, applying plenty of pressure, although Boro were organised, resolute and determined.

Three substitutions came at once as first Craig Bellamy' was replaced by Craig Noone and then Boro made two of their own.

The first Boro change saw the Boro fans afford a standing ovation to Ameobi as he was replaced by Emmanuel Ledesma.

Boro had chances to have been further in front before City scored and the concern was whether they would pay.

They almost did when Fraizer Campbell, scorer of five goals in five, was allowed a free header from a right-wing corner. He headed it down and it bounced over.

Another change brought another standing ovation as Miller was replaced by Main.

A grandstand finish ensured a terrific atmosphere as Boro's fans roared their team on.

Marshall, who could easily have been sent-off for a push on Emnes, spent more time in the Boro half than his own in the final two or three minutes, Steele produced a full-length save to turn around a Ben Turner header, crosses flew into the Boro box and were head clear.

With Marshall stranded Ledesma went for goal 35 yards out but miss-hit his effort and City flew back. But Boro stood firm, with 11 City players in or around their penalty area.

In the last of six minutes of added-time Emnes worked his way into a shooting position but fired just over.

There was real entertainment at the Riverside this afternoon, appreciated by the majority who saw Boro do what perhaps they should have done in Cardiff in November.

Scorers: Dyer, 13; Ameobi, 17; Gunnarsson, 67.

Middlesbrough: Steele; Bailey, McManus, Hines, Friend, Ameobi (Ledesma 74), Leadbitter (Capt), McEachran, Dyer (Emnes 74), McDonald, Miller (Main 87). Subs: Leutwiler (gk); Halliday, R Williams, Smallwood. Order of subs: 1) Ledesma 2) Emnes

Cardiff City: Marshall; McNaughton (Nugent 46), Taylor, Turner, Connolly, Whittingham (Capt.), Conway, Gunnarsson, Smith (Helguson 58), Campbell, Bellamy (Noone 74). Subs: Lewis (gk); Cowie, Bo-Kyung, Mason.

Referee: Mark Haywood, West Yorkshire.


Middlesbrough: McEachran
, 35; McDonald, 90+4, foul.

Cardiff City: Gunnarsson, 54, foul; Nugent, 56, foul; Marshall, 90, pushing.

Attendance: 15,440 (611 Cardiff)

Conditions: Cool, dry and sunny.

Possession: Middlesbrough 50% Cardiff City 50%

Website Boro Man of the Match: There were plenty of good performances across the pitch in a real team effort, but Sammy Ameobi gets the vote.




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