Championship play-offs: Boro batter Brentford to book place at Wembley
Middlesbrough made easy work of Brentford, who they welcomed to Teesside and sent back down south with their homes of Premier League promotion shattered, as Aitor Karanka’s men mauled them 3-0 to seal their spot in the Championship play-off final.
Lee Tomlin, Kike and Albert Aldomah struck at key times in their semi second leg to extend Boro’s aggregate advantage to 5-1. The Riverside outfit are guaranteed to face East Anglian opposition at Wembley, but it’s still yet to be determined whether that is Norwich City or Ipswich Town.
While that second semi-final shall be decided to Saturday, Middlesbrough wasted little time in pressing their home advantage on Mark Warburton’s Bees. West London club Brentford will now be looking for a new boss, having previously confirmed they are not offering a new contract to their current coach, whose deal is at an end.
Industrious engine room work from Boro skipper Grant Leadbitter and midfield colleague Adam Clayton denied the Bees any time and space on the ball, and this clearly hampered any quality in their end product.
Karanka’s men seemed to be simply waiting to pick off their opponents, and they did so midway through the first half with a fine team move. Leadbitter sprayed the ball out wide right to Adomah, who came infield and teed up Tomlin to bend home via a deflection.
Alan Judge and Andre Gray spurned decent openings for Brentford either side of half-time, and 10 minutes after the break they fell further behind.
Losing possession and caught upfield, Middlesbrough stung the Bees with a swift counter and, although Jelle Vossen couldn’t finish, the ball fell kindly to Spanish striker Kike to fire beyond David Button.
Adomah added a third on the break with a quarter of an hour left to cap Boro’s brilliance, while efforts by Warburton to reduce the Bees’ deficit by looking to his bench were in vain.
While Brentford face an uncertain future, Middlesbrough may just be in pole position to make a Premier League return and put some pride back into northeast football.