Sheffield United 1-3 Middlesbrough

Cameron Archer scores for Middlesbrough against Sheffield United
Cameron Archer’s second-half double gave Middlesbrough their 12th win in 15 Championship games

Middlesbrough kept their hopes of a top-two finish in the Championship alive with a comeback victory against promotion rivals Sheffield United.

The Blades are seven points clear of third-placed Boro, despite losing for the first time since 8 November, and also have a game in hand on Michael Carrick’s men.

But Boro’s victory, secured with Cameron Archer’s second-half double after Chuba Akpom had cancelled out Oli McBurnie’s early opener for second-placed Sheffield United, will give them renewed hope that they can close the gap in the final weeks of the campaign.

United boss Paul Heckingbottom was sent off for his protests after Boro’s third goal, which came after referee Andre Marriner played on despite appeals for a foul on James McAtee and the Blades later surrendered possession, from which Archer finished a swift counter-attack.

The outcome could have been so different had the hosts built on the fifth-minute lead they earned when McBurnie headed in Jack Robinson’s long throw from 10 yards.

Boro goalkeeper Zack Steffen prevented further early damage, saving from McAtee and Iliman Ndiaye after they had advanced on goal from the Blades’ left.

The visitors quickly improved after their slow start and levelled through Akpom, the Championship’s top scorer, who collected a pass from Marcus Forss and shot powerfully into the far corner for his 17th goal of the season.

Forss, Akpom and Riley McGree also went close before the break for Boro, who needed less than three minutes of the second period to go in front.

A Sheffield United attempt at a tackle to thwart a visiting attack landed at the feet of Archer and the on-loan Aston Villa striker thundered a shot into the roof of the net.

And Archer calmly netted his third goal in two games to make it 3-1 on a memorable night for the visitors.

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom told BBC Radio Sheffield:

“We missed our chances. We weren’t at our best but if you look at the stats and our chances, we’ll have had more than enough to win it.

“If we’re at our best we usually win, and someone’s going to have to be extra special to beat us. Boro might say they’ve played great, but we know what went against us today, which was us not taking our chances.

“I’ve got no complaints, you get what you deserve, we didn’t take our chances and that’s why we got beaten today.”

Middlesbrough manager Michael Carrick told BBC Radio Tees:

“It was a terrific game and I was enjoying watching it for many reasons.

“I’m so proud of the lads, to come to a place like this against a team in really good form.

“I keep talking about the spirit and the togetherness in the group and it’s easier when you’ve won games, but tonight was a real test for the boys and how much belief they really had in each other.

“That just shone through, they’ve jumped levels tonight and I’m so proud of their performance.”

Boro striker Cameron Archer told BBC Radio Tees:

“The manager told me the goals would come. I want to be a player who not only brings goals but brings a different dimension to the team.

“The experienced lads said if we went a goal down, don’t do anything stupid and just keep doing what we were supposed to do. It was a good reaction.”

Source:BBC Sport

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