MIDDLESBROUGH have proved a point – to themselves and the watching nation.
Just 72 hours after being outclassed at Blackpool, where they were thrashed 4-1, Boro returned to Lancashire last night to face npower Championship leaders Blackburn in a Sky Sports showdown.
Tuesday’s defeat at Bloomfield Road raised serious questions about Boro’s promotion credentials but the side delivered the right answers last night at Ewood Park in front of the TV cameras.
Lukas Jutkiewicz grabbed a goal in each half to break Middlesbrough’s duck away from home and leave Blackburn boss Steve Kean facing familiar vitriol from the Rovers faithful.
Tony Mowbray’s Boro were without a point on their travels in three attempts this season but took an early lead when the recalled Jutkiewicz was played in by Marvin Emnes.
Rovers – unbeaten before last night – scarcely fashioned an opportunity of note in the first half, although Fabio Nunes’ cross hit the crossbar in stoppage time.
Mustapha Carayol, who had a shot cleared off the line in the opening minute of the second period, then found Jutkiewicz just after the hour mark to superbly head in Boro’s second.
That brought the regular chants of “Kean Out” to a crescendo and a stoppage time goal from substitute Grant Hanley, amid a valiant late rally, could not prevent further barracking at the final whistle.
Mowbray was delighted to see his team claim their first points on the road this season and produce the desired response from the heavy defeat at Blackpool.
“We were looking for a reaction after Tuesday,” he said.
“I think Blackpool gave us a football lesson on Tuesday if we’re honest and we needed to bounce back.
“I’m really pleased with them and it gives us a platform.
“We beat Ipswich last Saturday and, six points out of nine, we’d probably have taken that at the start of the week.”