Middlesbrough player ratings: Assombalonga flops as late changes spare Boro's blushes
Saturday, 27th Feb 2021 17:19 by Phil Spencer
Middlesbrough secured a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Cardiff City at the Riverside Stadium.
Despite a bright start it was Sean Morrison who opened the scoring for the visitors, before a late equaliser from Paddy McNair made for an exciting finale.
However the game would end with a goal apiece on an afternoon that could have easily gone the way of the Bluebirds.
Here's how we rated the Teessiders.
Marcus Bettinelli –7
Put in a much-improved performance compared to the one against Bristol City. Made some decent saves and was much quicker off his line. Some kick were a bit wayward but generally a lot better.
Anfernee Dijksteel –6
Had a tough afternoon against Cardiff. Generally did well but will be unhappy about giving up a goal in the first half.
Did well against Kieffer Moore but could have done better for the Cardiff goal.
Grant Hall -7
Again, Hall did well for long spells but let his concentration slip which ultimately led to a goal.
Marc Bola –6
A good performance from the full-back. Defended well and tried to provide some support when pressing forward.
Paddy McNair –7
Used in midfield today and had a decent game. Put some excellent balls into the box and dictated play. Should have done better with a free-kick but got a goal which was massive.
Jonny Howson –7
Started well but faded as the game went on. Came to life again towards the end as he swept up play and looked to play the ball forward into the final third at all costs.
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing –5
Looked okay on his first start for the club. Put some decent balls into the box but looked off the pace for much of the game. Didn't quite do enough for me.
Marcus Tavernier –8
It was great to see Tav back in action. He adds something unique to the team with his quick thinking and high energy style of play. Looked the most likely to make something happen but naturally faded as the game wore on.
Worked hard but perhaps could have offered more on the ball. Carved out one or two decent chances for himself and maybe should have done better.
Barring a decent effort in the first half it was a fairly flat performance. Assombalonga is struggling for confidence at the moment and that's really coming across in his displays.
Changed the game when he came on with his energy and direct play down the left. Personally I think he deserves a chance in the starting line-up after falling out of favour.
A class act who I'm sure was only benched to rest him. Came on the pitch and changed the game with the way that he was able to break from midfield. Instrumental in the goal and deserves all the plaudits.
Has had a rough week after Neil Warnock's comments but looked fired up on the pitch. Will be awarded a rather generous assist for Paddy McNair's goal but went close himself shortly after with some neat play that saw his effort saved. If he can perform like that moving forward he won't have a problem.
He's always a bit of a wildcard option but Spence made a big difference. Adding real attacking emphasis to the team and looked dangerous as he combined with Kebano down the flank.
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