Tuncay fires Boro past Stoke
A late goal by Turkish striker Tuncay Sanli earned Middlesbrough a 2-1 win over ten-man Stoke at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday.
A fit again David Wheater returned for Middlesbrough with recent Arsenal signing Justin Hoyte making his league debut. Mido, who had scored in Boro's 2-1 loss to Liverpool last week, was on the bench with Andrew Taylor.
Stoke welcomed back their captain Andy Griffin who passed a late fitness test as the Potters made no fewer than ten changes from the team that figured in League Cup action in midweek.
Middlesbrough had the first chance of the game when Gary O'Neil crossed only for Afonso Alves' header to edge wide of the post. Brazilian Alves then exploited some terrible Stoke defending but slipped when he was about to shoot.
Up at the other end Stoke's Liam Lawrence tried to bend his 20th minute free kick round the Boro wall but keeper Ross Turnbull punched the ball away for a corner.
Stoke played virtually the last hour with ten men after midfielder Andy Faye was sent off for a two-footed tackle on Mohamed Shawky. Stoke paid heavily for Faye's moment of madness, too, when Alves curled in his 25 yard freekick into the top corner to put the hosts into a 37th minute lead.
The goal triggered a frantic passage of play up to the interval - Tuncay had a shot on target for Boro while Stoke's Ricardo Fuller dazzled with a solo run which did not reap the reward it deserved as he lost his feet in the box.
On 63 minutes Middlesbrough were awarded a penalty after a foul by Seyi George Olofinjana on Alves, but Stewart Downing's left-footed spotkick was denied by the crossbar.
Despite being a man down and against the run of play Stoke drew back level in the 71st minute with an own-goal from the hapless Hoyte, the league debutant bundling in Lawrence's inch-perfect cross at the far post.
Stoke, who celebrated their first win in the Premier League in 23 years last week, then had keeper Thomas Sorensen to thank for keeping the status quo when his low dive kept out Alves' left-footed piledriver from 20 yards out.
Just as it looked as though the visitors were going to steal an unlikely away point Tuncay bagged the 85th minute winner, the Turkish striker racing on to Didier Digard's long range shot to defy Sorensen.