Middlesbrough's play-off hopes dented as Jordan Rhodes scores on return for Huddersfield

Former Middlesbrough striker Jordan Rhodes returned to the Riverside to help Huddersfield to a 2-0 win that keeps their hopes of a top-two finish alive.

By PA
Monday, 18th April 2022, 3:14 pm
Huddersfield Town's Jordan Rhodes (left) scores their side's second goal of the game during the Sky Bet Championship match at the Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough. PA picture.

Rhodes, who never scored on home turf during his time at Boro between February 2016 and July 2017, set up Naby Sarr’s opener four minutes before the break.

And the 32-year-old scored only his second of the season on the hour to secure the victory that keeps Huddersfield in touch with second-placed Bournemouth.

Middlesbrough, who slipped down to eighth, are now without a win in four matches after suffering a third straight league defeat at the Riverside without scoring a goal.

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With Middlesbrough hoping to climb back into the top six and Huddersfield focused on promotion, there was plenty riding on this encounter.

It was evident in terms of the tempo, although neither side were able to come up with a clear-cut chance in the opening 20 minutes.

The best Middlesbrough created during that spell was when Paddy McNair’s cross was met by Riley McGree’s volley in the area. Huddersfield defender Harry Toffolo did enough to help the midfielder’s touch into the arms of goalkeeper Lee Nicholls.

After Sorba Thomas had tried his luck from 40 yards by going close at the other end when he spotted Luke Daniels off his line, Marcus Tavernier then had an effort deflect wide for a corner.

Then, suddenly, Daniels was forced into some real action. After Sol Bamba’s awful back pass left the goalkeeper with little choice but to reach and gather, Huddersfield had a free-kick in the home side’s penalty box.

Rhodes was denied from 12 yards out by Daniels’ outstretched left-hand in a crowded box and seconds later Daniels was alert to tip over a looping header from Sarr.

Sarr was not to be denied four minutes before the break. When Thomas floated a free-kick over the head of Bamba at the back post, Rhodes nodded back into the six yard box where Sarr was on hand to head beyond Daniels.

Huddersfield created the first chance of the second period too, when Daniels did well to prevent substitute Josh Koroma from beating him after Rhodes had flicked him in the 54th minute.

That was enough for manager Chris Wilder to change the shape. Off went Bamba and on came striker Josh Coburn as a third forward, and more of an attacking figurehead. But no sooner had Middlesbrough started to threaten more, Huddersfield countered and added the second.

Lewis O’Brien’s lovely pass set Rhodes – who was played onside by Marc Bola – free and the Boro old boy finished perfectly inside the top corner of Daniels’ net.

Middlesbrough struggled to make an impact in the final third and the best they could muster was in the closing stages when McGree curled brilliantly against the bar and Tavernier’s rebound was well blocked by Pipa.