Surprising team news for Newcastle saw an unchanged side be named by Big Sam despite many players playing internationals in mid-week.
Middlesbrough also had a surprise when Jonathan Woodgate was names in the team after his knee surgery in the summer.
Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Schwarzer, Young, Woodgate, Wheater, Taylor, Boateng, Rochemback, Arca, Downing, Mido, Aliadiere. Subs: Jones, Sanli, Lee, Cattermole, Hines.
Newcastle (4-3-3): Harper, Carr, Taylor, Rozehnal, N’Zogbia, Butt, Geremi, Smith, Milner, Martins, Viduka. Subs: Given, Cacapa, Owen, Ameobi, Ramage.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)
It also seemed that in the Directors box was Mike Ashley sitting on Chris Mort’s right with Sam on Mort’s left but the commentators didn’t mention this. Mike was wearing a Newcastle Team Shirt.
The game got under way and within 2 minutes Steven Carr was calling the touchline to be replaced. He had a hamstring pull when he had challenged for a head ball and was replaced on 4 minutes with Peter Ramage.
In the first few minutes James Milner is looking lively down the left. After 10 minutes the play is very scrappy with both teams struggling to control the midfield. Then after 22 minutes Newcastle went ahead with just a superb goal. Charles N’Zogbia had the ball on the left wing and cut inside across the penalty area with 3 Middlesbrough players in attendance. Charles then hit a wonderful curling right foot shot inside Schwarzer’s left hand post.
It was a terrific goal and Mort and Ashley were seen hugging each other in the director’s box and Sam seemingly very pleased. Charles is having a fantastic start to the season and it’s hard to see how he can be dropped when playing this well. After 27 minutes Taylor makes a good clearance when Rochemback was through on goal.
Then after 28 minutes Mido scored for Middlesbrough and it was not a good goal for Newcastle to concede. A cross from the right came in and Mido beat Taylor to chest the ball down take it forward and around Harper before placing it in the net. Mido then demonstrated in front of the Newcastle fans and rightly received a yellow card for his antics.
Then after 35 minutes with Middlesbrough pressure mounting Harper made a wonderful save to his left as he flipped the ball around his left hand post â€“ a truly great save at a very important time as Middlesbrough were dominating.
After 43 minutes a good ball was played inside Peter Ramage who recovered well to block the ball for a corner.Â Ramage was having a steady game at right back.
Half time came and the game was very even with Middlesbrough playing surprisingly well. It will take a big effort from the Newcastle side to secure a win with Middlesbrough probably just shading the first half.