Steve Bruce will be a very unhappy manager tonight as Latics squandered chance after chance, then were stung by a very late goal to go into the International break empty handed.
Middlesbrough came to the JJB Stadium with a game plan, one which is usually adopted by low league team going to the ‘top four’. They stuck 9 men behind the ball and played for the break.
They did have a couple of good chances, but lacked quality in the final third to make any impact. Latics on the other hand were very proactive and got through the defensive bank in front of them.
Zaki alone had three clear cut chances that were muffled out by last ditch blocks or saves. Heskey had a point blank shot ‘saved’ by Ross Turnbull in the Middlesbrough goal, not that he knew much about it.
Palacios had a great effort turned around the post in the first ten minutes and Kapo looked buoyant as his partner in a very strong Latics midfield.
The second half didn’t meet up to the first half’s dominance but of the few chances threat there were they fell to Latics.
Heskey and Palacios were a constant threat and both passed up golden chances to win the match, even the injection of Jason Koumas and Henri Camara couldn’t provide the illusive goal.
Both substitutes had opportunities but it was a Boro substitute, Didier Digard hoofed the ball up to Downing and he knocked the ball down for Aliadiere to place in to the bottom corner.
For all Latics pressure and dominance it has to be said that Boro’s defence were excellent, every man throwing himself in front of the ball to stop the inevitable goal.
It is for sure that Latics on another day would have won this game very comfortably, as it is we ended up being stunned by a last minute goal.
Report by Jason Taylor