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Boro finish with a flourish
Full-time: Yeovil Town 1 Middlesbrough 4
MIDDLESBROUGH saved the best for last as they signed off their Championship campaign with an emphatic 4-1 win at already-relegated Yeovil Town.
Boro ran riot against a shoddy Yeovil defence as they racked up their biggest away win of the season at a sunny Huish Park.
Danny Graham opened the scoring shortly after the half-hour mark and linked play magnificently throughout, yet still managed to produce two incredible misses that saw him fail to find the target despite facing an open goal.
Thankfully, his misses did not matter as Boro shrugged off the disappointment of conceding an equaliser to James Hayter's to score three more goals of their own.
Emmanuel Ledesma claimed two of them – the best of which came courtesy of a fantastic scissors-kick volley – with man-of-the-match Lee Tomlin also finding the target before the interval.
The win means Middlesbrough finish in 12th position, having established some decent foundations to build from next season.
Aitor Karanka made five changes for Boro's final game, handing rare starts to Jason Steele and Seb Hines, and recalling Daniel Ayala, Nathaniel Chalobah and Ledesma.
The Boro boss would have been hoping for a bright display to bookend the campaign, but even he cannot have anticipated just how impressive his side would be whenever they attacked before the interval.
Yeovil will return to League One next season, and the questionable quality of their defending provided a clear indication of just why they have finished on the bottom of the pile this term.
The Glovers were all over the place from the off, but Boro still had to take advantage, and they duly cashed in, with the interplay between Graham, Tomlin and Ledesma especially effective.
Graham actually passed up a golden chance to open the scoring before Boro cut loose, with the striker, who was playing the final game of his loan spell from Sunderland, producing a contender for Miss of the Season in the 12th minute.
Nathaniel Chalobah flicked the ball over his head to break down the left-hand side, but after he rolled the ball into the box with the outside of his box, Graham completely miscued what should have been a tap in to miss the target from 12 yards.
It was a dreadful miss, but Graham more than made amends when he opened the scoring in the 31st minute.
Yeovil goalkeeper Marek Stech could only parry Ledesma's fierce low strike from outside the area, and Graham reacted quickest to roll home the rebound.
Yeovil had come close before that when Steele had to back-pedal to tip Hayter's chip over the crossbar, and the hosts levelled seven minutes after falling behind.
Samuel Hoskins helped Luke Ayling's cross across the area, and Hayter shrugged off the attentions of his marker to convert from close range.
That strike levelled the scores, but Boro scored two goals in the space of three minutes to ensure they entered the interval with a 3-1 advantage.
Ledesma claimed the first, rolling the ball into Graham, and receiving a smart reverse pass from the striker before lashing home from the heart of the penalty area.
The Teessiders then claimed a third goal two minutes before the break, and the strike owed much to some excellent awareness from Steele.
Having spotted that Yeovil's defence had pushed upfield, the goalkeeper drilled a long clearance over the head of the final Glovers centre-half.
Tomlin was alert to it, and after nudging the ball past a flat-footed Stech, he rolled into the empty net from an acute angle to claim his third goal in the last two matches.
Karanka took off Albert Adomah and introduced Adam Reach at half-time, and the substitute had a hand in Boro's fourth goal, which arrived within two minutes of the break.
Reach delivered a delicate cross from the left after receiving the ball from Graham, but Ledesma still had an awful lot to do when he lined himself up for a scissor kick volley.
He executed it perfectly at the back post though, with the ball flashing past Stech. It was a sensational finish from a player who was clearly relishing his return to the starting line-up.
Not, however, that Ledesma was content with a brace. The winger continued to be positive throughout the second half, and came extremely close to a hat-trick with a deflected free-kick that Stech did well to parry to safety.
Boro were running riot at this stage, but having produced a contender for Miss of the Season in the first half, Graham nailed down the award with an even more outrageous failure in the 59th minute.
Tomlin nudged the ball past Byron Webster to leave himself with a clear run on goal, but having drawn the keeper towards him, he slipped the ball infield to Graham.
In fairness to the Sunderland loanee, he clearly wasn't expecting to get the ball, but the stabbed finish he directed wide of an open goal was still an unbelievable miss.
Aside from his misses, however, Graham's link-up play was superb, and he fashioned an excellent pass to Reach in the 69th minute, only for the half-time replacement to lash wildly over the crossbar.
Yeovil (4-4-2): Stech; Ayling, Duffy, Webster, McAllister; Dawson (Davis 46), Edwards, Foley (Grant 46), Ralls; Hayter, Hoskins (Twumasi 62).
Subs (not used): Dunn (gk), Lanzoni, Jones, Morgan.
Middlesbrough (4-2-3-1): Steele; Varga, Ayala, Hines, Gibson; Whitehead (Morris 66), Chalobah (Butterfield 24); Adomah (Reach 46), Tomlin, Ledesma; Graham.
Subs (not used): Konstantopoulos (gk), Omeruo, L Williams, Main.
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