Middlesbrough boss Steve McClaren was understandably elated after watching his side come back to beat Steaua Bucharest 4-3 on aggregate in their Uefa Cup semi-final.
Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, Boro fell further behind when Steua scored two first half goals to extend their lead to 3-0. As in the previous round against Basle, Boro were left needing four goals to win, but two goals from Massimo Maccarone along with goals from Mark Viduka and Chris Riggot, saw them through to the final where they will meet Sevilla.
McClaren said: “I cannot believe it. It is incredible.
“It was down to character and attitude. I said that in the previous round against Basle – it was the same here.
“I said that lightning couldn’t strike twice in the same place but it has done. Now let’s go one step further and win the final.”
Massimo Maccarone had scored the late goal that beat Basle in the previous round and he did the same again with an 89th-minute header against Steaua.
Boro striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink said: “Massimo, I will love him until I die.
“It is unbelievable. We are in the final and we have to go for it in the final. We had to do it the hard way.”
Midfielder George Boateng put the win down to Boro’s never-say-die attitude.
“It was just hard work in the second half,” he said. “We had to find a way to win this game.
“After it went to 2-0 it was very difficult to climb the big mountain but when we came back and got the goal the belief started growing and in the last 15 minutes we could see they were tiring.
“Steve McClaren motivated all of us, he said at half-time that we had nothing to lose, just go out and enjoy it.”
Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson was left flabbergasted by his side’s victory.
Steaua Bucharest coach Cosmin Olaroiu blamed his side’s defeat to over-confidence.
Olaroiu said: “My players believed themselves to be in the final after half an hour but even so such a defeat is difficult to understand.
“We lost our heads and we missed a huge opportunity to get through.
“The lack of experience of some of my players upset our whole system once we went 2-0 up.”
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