Middlesbrough came from behind to claim a 3-1 victory with a clinical display on an emotional night at Doncaster Rovers.
Rovers striker Billy Sharp opened the scoring at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Hours before kick-off the club announced that captain Sharp’s two-day-old son had died on Saturday, and it had been expected that the forward would be unable to play any part in the contest.
However, Rovers boss Dean Saunders sprang a surprise by including Sharp in his starting line-up alongside new signing El-Hadji Diouf.
A minute’s applause celebrated the tragically short life of Sharp’s child before kick-off and Sharp sent the Keepmoat Stadium into raptures when he netted a stunning volley inside the first 15 minutes.
Boro responded with the calm assurance of a side lodged in the upper reaches of the npower Championship and they were ahead by half-time.
A wretched mistake by Doncaster’s veteran goalkeeper Neil Sullivan allowed Marvin Emnes to claim his side’s second after Barry Robson’s drive restored parity.
Robson’s second and his side’s third came from the penalty spot after another Sullivan error caused chaos inside his own penalty area and Pascal Chimbonda fouled Tony McMahon.
Boro boss Tony Mowbray said: “Taking the professionalism out of it, I’m delighted for the boy (Sharp) that he’s scored such a fantastic goal on such an occasion for him.
“It’s amazing to think for anyone who’s had children the emotional drain that must have been with him - I couldn’t put it into words.
“For him to score a wonder-goal, your headlines should be there really - a goal from heaven.”
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