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Match Report: Boro 0 - 3 CAFC

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As I have been on Holiday with Matteo, neither of us could be bothered to write a match report on this amazing match. But boy what a match it is. This article was written by Gary Haines for the official CAFC website at

A first-half sizzler from Dennis Rommedahl coupled with efforts from Chris Perry and Darren Bent after the break sealed a fully-deserved victory in the North East.

It also maintained the Addicks' perfect start to the Premiership campaign as they outplayed an ordinary Boro side in all departments.

Rommedahl and Jerome Thomas caused no end of problems on the flanks, the defensive unit was watertight and the midfield triangle of Radostin Kishishev, Alexei Smertin and Danny Murphy worked a treat once more.

Indeed, at times it must have appeared like the Bermuda Triangle for the home side, for whom several of their star performers went missing.

But while people will be critical of Steve McClaren's side, that is perhaps taking away how well Charlton played.

Sneering cynics had laughed off the wins against Sunderland and Wigan Athletic and pointed at this as the first big test for Curbishley's class of 2005/06.

What they had not noticed was how well the Addicks had played in their opening matches, and that form continued at the Riverside - and some.

It was an outstanding display from the SE7 side.

They were quite simply too good for their hosts and sit proudly in the upper echelons on merit.

There was no great surprise from the visiting camp at the Riverside with Charlton sending out an unchanged side.

Indeed the only change to the 16-man squad saw Jonathan Spector replace Jonatan Johansson on the bench and Curbishley continued with the 4-5-1 formation that has served him so well in the opening weeks of the campaign.

That meant, once again in-form striker Darren Bent was on his own up front some three-and-a-half years after breaking his Premiership duck against the same North-East opposition.

The big news from the home camp was the absence of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink with a complicated injury to his hamstring, thigh and back, and he was replaced up front by big-money summer signing from Portsmouth, Yakubu.

The Nigerian partnered Mark Viduka with controversial Austrian defender Emanuel Pogatetz on the bench after his multi-match ban for a leg-breaking challenge for former club Bayer Leverkusen was cut by a third, to eight games.

It was Boro who carved out the first chance of a bright afternoon when Stewart Downing's curling cross bounced beyond Chris Perry but Yakubu, perhaps surprised, headed over.

Interestingly, while fledgling frontman Bent was opening his top-flight account with Ipswich Town in April 2002, Downing was making his Boro debut.

The talented left-winger was hoping to force his way into the England reckoning for the crucial World Cup qualifiers against Wales and Northern Ireland.

Lining up in direct opposition was Luke Young, equally hopeful of being in Sven Goran Eriksson's plans, especially after the recent injury to Manchester United's Gary Neville.

But if Sven, or Tord Grip, were watching they could not have failed to be impressed at the contribution of Murphy.

The born-again midfielder pulled the strings much more as he continues to revel in the middle of the park.

An injury robbed him of a trip to the World Cup in 2002 and if he keeps performing to this standard he may well have a chance to make amends four years later.

As the action switched to the other end Rommedahl outpaced Franck Queudrue but his centre was just too high for Bent in the middle.

Michael Reiziger's surging run forward in the 19th minute set up a shooting chance for Downing but the youngster blasted high into the stands.

Charlton were looking menacing themselves, however, especially down the right-hand side.

Rommedahl, who was showing plenty of early enterprise, made more good ground two minutes later and Bent was a bootlace away from connecting with his neat clipped centre.

As another cross from the much-maligned Danish flanker drifted inches beyond Thomas moments later, it was perhaps a chance for him to adapt his angles.

Peter Crouch, meanwhile, must have been licking his lips if watching the televised contest.

Back to the action, and Charlton broke forward at pace again as Thomas outwitted Ray Parlour but Boro quickly got men back and Rommedahl's shot on the turn was blocked.

With the majority of the home supporters screaming at him to pick out an unchallenged James Morrison on the right, Downing selfishly chose to shift into space and balloon another effort over the bar.

While Rommedahl was perhaps guilty off a little bit too much elevation on his crosses, wing partner Thomas was causing plenty of problems to the home side on the left.

On the half hour the former Arsenal youngster skipped past Parlour on and sped away from Morrison but, not for the first time his pass-selection was poor and Boro again got back to clear.

Murphy beat Queudrue - yet again - on the right 10 minutes before the break but his pull-back could only find a red-shirted defender.

But, at last, everything fell in place for Charlton seven minutes before the interval as they seized the lead.

Bent picked out Murphy some 30 yards from goal and the midfielder threaded a sumptuous pass between three home defenders.

Rommedahl was on to it like a flash, seizing the ball and planting a first time shot beyond Schwarzer to send the visiting contingent behind the goal into delirium.

It was only the Dane's third goal for the club but the second in the North East following his goal at Newcastle United last term.

On enterprise alone, it was a deserved lead from the men from SE7 but they were almost breached immediately as the hosts sought a response.

Downing's corner from the right caused all sorts of problems and Yakubu eventually helped the ball back to Queudrue.

The Frenchman must have thought he'd scored as he drilled in an angled shot but had reckoned without Addicks skipper Luke Young, who was well-placed to athletically clear the ball off the line.

Stephan Andersen bravely smothered at the feet of Yakubu and the Dane, scarcely tested in his opening two matches this season, plunged to his right in stoppage time to tip away a Morrison piledriver from the edge of the box.

Yakubu then jinked into space before falling over his own feet and kicking thin air. It typified his and his side's first-half performance as the period came to a close.

A clearly unimpressed McClaren made two changes at the break, replacing the out-of-sorts Queudrue and Morrison, handing a debut to Pogatetz and also introducing Spanish star Gaizka Mendieta.

After Downing blasted hopelessly wide early on Murphy's curling free-kick drifted just wide of the right hand upright

Boos echoed round the Riverside after the natives bemoaned more wasteful play from their heroes and this was playing right into the hands of the visitors.

Indeed, they had the best chance of the half to date in the 55th minute when Murphy picked out the overlapping Chris Powell and his centre was met by a fine volley from Bent that flew straight into the grateful arms of Schwarzer.

McClaren's last roll of the dice saw the introduction of forgotten frontman Massimo Maccarone for the injury-plagued Mendieta, the Spaniard lasting just 12 minutes.

At last there was some urgency from the home side but Andersen got behind a volley from Viduka and then saw Smertin head the ball to safety at a corner moments later.

Rommedahl's clever shift of pace from the right set up Bent to curl just wide as the visitors continued to threaten and Gareth Southgate picked up a yellow card for tripping Smertin on 71 minutes.

McClaren stormed to the touchline to berate his backline as the seconds ticked down as still Charlton, with Young particularly outstanding, were preserving their advantage in some comfort.

And Murphy's pass sent the skipper scampering clear on the right 15 minutes from time but he elected to shoot with teammates better-placed in the middle and Schwarzer saved.

Andersen showed some basketball skills to keep out a stinging drive from Maccarone, eventually plunging on the ball low.

The impressive Thomas made way for Shaun Bartlett on 78 minutes as Reiziger was spared further torment.

But three thoroughly-deserved points were sewn up 10 minutes from time.

Murphy was upended by George Boateng's clumsy lunge on the right side of the box and what followed was a defensive horror show from the hosts.

At least three white shirts were all alone in the penalty area and the first of them, Perry, swept home Murphy's free-kick.

Like Rommedahl, it was the defender's third goal for the club and suggested it would definitely be the Valley men's day.

Off went a sizeable chunk of the Boro faithful in some disgust as their adversaries, who had made the long journey to the North East, chanted 'easy, easy'.

The departed fans missed a late header from Yakubu, which flew over the bar, but were spared the misery of watching Charlton's third goal three minutes into injury time.

Bryan Hughes, on as a late replacement for the impressive Smertin, filtered the ball through for Bent to race away from Ugo Ehiogu and there was little doubt in the outcome as the in-form striker netted with due aplomb.

My Man Of The Match:Danny Murphy

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Yes Romm, YES!

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