Britt Strike Spares His Besi Mate

(The Sun on Sunday - Colin Young)

Britt Assombalonga scored a rare long-range strike to ruin Tony Mowbray’s Riverside return - and spare Mo Besic’s blushes. 

Boro’s £15m record signing hit his sixth goal of the season - the first Tony Pulis’s side have scored outside the penalty area all season.

And it salvaged a point after Bosnian midfielder Besic was sent off in the 21st minute for pulling Bradley Dack’s shirt when the Rovers marksman was through on goal.

Blackburn boss Mowbray - on his first return to Teesside since his Boro sacking five years ago - said: “It’s a very frustrated dressing room but the one team you don’t want to play against ten men is Middlesbrough. 

“They are so solid and they do what they have to do.”

Stirring Second Half Comeback

(Northern Echo - Scott Wilson)

Ten-man Middlesbrough staged a stirring second-half comeback to claim a point from a 1-1 draw with Blackburn Rovers.

Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray looked like enjoying a successful return to the Riverside when Charlie Mulgrew curled home a 22nd-minute free-kick, moments after Middlesbrough had been reduced to ten men when Mo Besic was dismissed for a professional foul.

But Rovers were unable to make their extra man count, and Boro claimed a deserved leveller when substitute Britt Assombalonga curled home in the second half.

Boro adopted a positive second-half approach despite their numerical disadvantage, and their boldness was almost rewarded just before the hour mark.

Saville’s long ball sent Jordan Hugill galloping clear of the Blackburn defence, but the Boro striker took far too long to get his shot away and Mulgrew was able to prevent him from pulling the trigger with a perfectly-timed sliding tackle.

Four minutes later, however, and the hosts were level. George Friend rolled the ball in to Hugill, he laid it off to Assombalonga with his back to goal, and the substitute opened up his body to curl home a superb finish from the corner of the box.

Class Follows Carelessness

(Dominic Shaw - Teesside Live)

After a moment of carelessness from Mo Besic came a moment of class from Britt Assombalonga.

Ten-man Boro looked destined to lose successive league games for the first time under Pulis under the substitute striker struck to earn his side a point and possibly earn himself an opportunity in the coming weeks.

An afternoon that started with Pulis giving Ashley Fletcher the nod over £15m Assombalonga ended with the former Forest striker grabbing the headlines and the manager's attention with a stunning strike to deny Rovers a win they'll feel they should have wrapped up long before the leveller.

Besic owes Assombalonga a pat on the back.

Boro rode their luck and Assombalonga rose to the challenge. On the eve of this game Pulis talked about the need for Boro's expensive strikers to "go out there and do it". Well Assombalonga did exactly that.

And he could - should - have won it for the hosts. Late on, he had a glorious opportunity with only keeper Raya to beat but there wasn't enough substance on his lofted effort and Paul Downing hacked clear from under the posts. That really would have capped off a turnaround that seemed so unlikely for so long after Blackburn's opener.

Boro, though, should be grateful for their point. A very good point. This is a game that could have easily drifted away from Boro after the sending off and the opener and the period of dominance from the visitors that followed.

Pulis: Decision Changed The Game

(BBC Sport)

Ten-man Middlesbrough fought back from a goal down to draw with Blackburn Rovers and avoid slipping to back-to-back defeats for the first time since December 2017.

The point leaves Boro sixth but they lose ground on the top four of Norwich, Leeds, Sheffield United and Derby who all won, while Blackburn are only six points behind the top six in 11th.

Rovers - managed by Teessiders legend Tony Mowbray - were the better side in the first-half, helped by the dismissal of Boro's Bosnian midfielder Mo Besic, and led when Charlie Mulgrew curled a superb free-kick past Darren Randolph.

Mowbray's opposite number Tony Pulis responded by making two half-time substitutions, introducing George Saville to shore up midfield and striker Britt Assombalonga to add some punch up front, and it paid off.

Jordan Hugill, denied by Mulgrew's well-timed challenge just minutes before, laid off to Assombalonga and the DR Congo international bent in a sparkling effort to level.

Buoyed by the goal, Boro poured forward but were unable to find a way past David Raya, and the points were shared.

Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis: "I'll say it now - Besic does pull his shirt.

"But I believe our goalkeeper was getting to the ball first before their lad. I think it's a yellow card, not a sending off.”