MIDDLESBROUGH boss Tony Mowbray hopes to take positives out of last night’s FA Cup display against Chelsea into the remainder of the club’s promotion push.
Boro gave as good as they got for long periods against the Londoners, but their main target this season has always been promotion – and they are quickly back in npower Championship action against leaders Cardiff on Saturday.
Mowbray said: “We have got 12 games left now.
“For six months of this season, we have been in the top six and we have been threatening the top two for most of that time.
“We have obviously fallen off the pace in the last six weeks, for whatever reason, be that injury or the fact we have been involved in cup competitions.
“But we have to get back to business now. We have to start winning football matches again now and our only concern this year is to try to get out of this league.”
Chelsea’s much-changed side, led by John Terry, triumphed won after a difficult first half.
Boro largely contained them before the break to give the locals among a crowd of 27,856 hope of a shock result.
Boro needed an important block by Nicky Bailey to deny Oscar on 12 minutes after Victor Moses had exploded past full-back George Friend and squared for the Brazilian to shoot.
Fernando Torres was becalmed in a sea of indecision – he scuffed a 21st-minute shot tamely at Jason Steele – as the visitors struggled to create clear-cut chances.
Having safely negotiated a difficult opening period, Boro started to make an impression.
With Rhys Williams probing from central midfield and Muzzy Carayol and Faris Haroun providing the width, the Blues might have conceded the opening goal on 26 minutes.
Striker Scott McDonald met Bailey’s driven cross with a powerful header, but saw the ball fly wide of the far post with Cech looking on anxiously.
Carayol dragged an ambitious 36th-minute effort well wide, but he forced Cech into a less than convincing save when his shot reared up off the turf and hit the keeper in the chest before being bundled to safety.
Chelsea forced their way in front on 51 minutes when Yossi Benayoun recycled Oscar’s cross to Ramires and he curled the ball towards the top corner.
His shot flicked Torres on its way to goal and both men appeared to claim the goal, although few in blue would have been unduly concerned as to the name which eventually went on to the scoresheet.
The visitors made sure of victory 15 minutes from time when substitute Eden Hazard laid a second on a plate for Moses, who capped an impressive individual display by tapping home.
Cech had to be on his toes to keep out an 82nd-minute free-kick from Merouane Zemmama, and fellow substitutes Seb Hines and Ishmael Miller both went close in a late flurry, but Chelsea made it to the final whistle with their clean sheet intact.
MIDDLESBROUGH: Steele, Bailey, McManus, Bikey (Hines 35), Friend, Carayol (Zemmama 74), Leadbitter, R Williams, Haroun, Main (Miller 62), McDonald. Subs not used: Leutwiler, Emnes, Ledesma, Smallwood. Booked: McManus, Bailey
CHELSEA: Cech, Ferreira, Ivanovic, Terry, Bertrand, Ake, Ramires, Moses (Luiz 76), Oscar (Marin 79), Benayoun (Hazard 58), Torres. Subs not used: Turnbull, Cole, Lampard, Ba. Goals: Ramires 51, Moses 73.
Ref: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).