It was a night of contrasting fortunes for two debutants as Middlesbrough triumphed 2-0 over derby rivals Sunderland at the Riverside. Republic of Ireland winger Jason McAteer, who signed for Sunderland on Friday, made his debut for his new side tonight but it was Frenchman Franck Queudrue, making his home debut for Boro, who stole the headlines with an early goal that put his team on the road to victory. Within 18 minutes, the side were 2-0 up thanks to Alen Boksic and managed to hold on for a deserved victory despite losing midfielder Paul Ince who was sent off late in the second half.
The home side went a goal up with just two minutes on the clock when Argentinian teenager Carlos Marinelli made an immediate impression with a corner kick that found Queudrue in the six-yard box and the Frenchman rose high to head home past the stranded Thomas Sorensen. Middlesbrough continued to press forward with Boksic and Slovakian Szilard Nemeth both coming close.
However, in the 20th minute, Boro extended their lead. Once again, Nemeth was involved, running into space and delivering the perfect cross for Boksic to head a looping ball over Sorensen and off Jody Craddock before it hit the net.
Sunderland tried to fight back and Kevin Phillips even managed to get the ball into the net but the goal was disallowed because of a foul by Republic of Ireland striker Niall Quinn in the penalty area. Quinn went close himself with a near-post header from a McAteer corner in the 27th minute and was looking the most dangerous in Sunderland's attack but Ugo Ehiogu and Gareth Southgate dealt admirably with the tall Dubliner.
Four minutes before the interval, Sunderland enjoyed their best chance of the game so far when Stanislav Varga's free-kick deflected upwards off the defensive wall and Schwarzer's punch only dropped to Craddock, but the keeper redeemed himself with a vital block. Not surprisingly, Sunderland emerged after the break with more focus and determination following a disappointing showing in the first 45-minute period. Gray, McAteer and Phillips all tested Schwarzer but he held out.
In the 71st minute, Sunderland were given a lifeline when Boro captain Paul Ince saw red. The midfielder became embroiled in a heated exchange with Quinn and angrily pushed the striker in full view of referee Mark Halsey. He produced a yellow card for Quinn and a straight red for Ince much to the uproar of the home crowd. Boro immediately made changes to cope with Ince's departure with boss Steve McClaren taking off Nemeth and bringing on the more combative Dean Windass in his place.
Although Boro suffered several scares in the closing 20 minutes, they held out for the win and in doing so, condemned Sunderland boss Peter Reid to his first derby defeat in 10 games.
Filed by Amanda Fennelly