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Sunday, 24 February 2013

Classic League Cup Finals: Middlesbrough 2 Bolton 1 2004

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Squarefootball's Steve Coulter ends his look back at classic League Cup finals by taking a look back at Middlesbrough's victory over Bolton Wanderers in 2004.

Potential England managers Steve McClaren and Sam Allardyce locked horns but McClaren won and ultimately went on to manage the national team with disastrous results.

These days we associate Steve McClaren with a miserable tenure as England manager and a soggy brolly, but at the turn of the century McClaren was a promising young manager.

He made his name in a five-year stint as Middlesbrough manager. The crowning glory when the Boro won their first major trophy. For 128 years the Teesiders had longed for glory. Their long wait was ended on February 29th 2004.
With Wembley being redeveloped, Middlesbrough faced Bolton Wanderers at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. Sam Allardyce's Wanderers were a tough nut to crack and had plenty of big match experience. The Bolton line-up included Kevin Nolan, Kevin Davies and French international Youri Djorkaeff. Boro also boasted several household names. The midfield pairing of Juniho and Boudewijin Zenden were billed as potential match winners.

Zenden took just two minutes to make his mark. Gaizka Mendieta released Zenden on the left. The Dutchman squared the ball across the face of goal and Joseph Desire Job was on hand to make it 1-0.

Middlesbrough extended their lead five minutes later. Emerson Thom brought down Job and Boro were awarded a penalty. Zenden blasted the spot kick home. The goal was clouded with controversy. Zenden had slipped just as he was striking the ball. As a result his shot hit both feet before entering the net. Technically the goal should have been disallowed.
The rub of the green dramatic shifted 14 minutes later. This time the Trotters enjoyed a stroke of good fortune. Kevin Davies's weak shot looked food and drink for Mark Schwarzer, but the Middlesbrough goalkeeper allowed the ball to squirm through his grasp and into the net. The big Aussie showed great character to recover from his horrendous error. He pulled off several final stops to deny the Wanderers attack.
Middlesbrough remained resolute and made history.



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