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Amazing comeback puts Boro through

Maccarone wheels away in delight as Middlesbrough stun Steaua Bucharest.

LONDON, England -- Middlesbrough produced another astonishing four-goal comeback to beat Steaua Bucharest 4-2 for a 4-3 aggregate victory and reach the UEFA Cup final for the first time.

Italian substitute Massimo Maccarone, who got the last-minute winner to beat Basel in the last round, repeated the feat with an 89th-minute header that turned a 3-0 deficit into an incredible second successive 4-3 win.

Boro looked out when goals by Nicolae Dica and Doran Goian had the Romanian visitors 2-0 up after 24 minutes.

But Maccarone began the comeback in the 33rd minute while a 65th minute Mark Viduka header and 73rd minute Chris Riggott goal raised hopes among the biggest crowd of the season at the Riverside.

With the crowd willing Boro forward, Stewart Downing crossed from the left and Maccarone planted a header into the net to book a place in the May 10 final in Eindhoven where they will meet Sevilla.

"I thought lightning couldn't strike twice but it has here," said manager Steve McClaren. "The players have shown magnificent resilience and they deserved it."

Steaua got the perfect start when keeper Brad Jones parried a shot by Petre Marin straight to Dica, who took a composed touch before firing home in the 16th minute.

Jones, in for Mark Schwarzer who was injured during Boro's FA Cup semifinal defeat by West Ham on Sunday, repeated his error in the 23rd minute and this time Goian was on hand to punish him.

That gave the 1986 European champions a 3-0 aggregate lead and left Boro needing to score four in just over an hour.

Remarkably, that is exactly what they managed in the previous round when beating Swiss club Basel 4-1 on the night and they soon set about the recovery with Maccarone's low drive soon after he had replaced injured captain Gareth Southgate.

Viduka got the second when he beat the Steaua keeper to a tempting Downing cross to make it 2-2 on the night.

Boro's first full house of the season sensed a repeat of the Basel miracle and that belief grew when Downing's shot was parried into the path of Riggott, who stumbled it over the line.

That goal made amends for a bad miss in stoppage time against West Ham but the men in red were in no mood for another dose of disappointment.

The Steaua players looked shellshocked as Boro poured forward but as the clock ticked down it looked as if it might be a step too far.

But then Downing swung in another perfect cross which Maccarone met with a diving header from 10 meters out to send the Riverside into raptures.

"Magnificent resilience, character, attitude, I said that against Basel and they have done it again," said McClaren, whose day had begun in disappointment with the news that he had appeared to have missed out on the England manager's job.

"I just can't praise the players enough, the supporters, everyone at this football club. We deserve that. We're doing it the hard way but we've got to the final, let's go one step further and win it."

Steaua coach Cosmin Olaroiu said: "The lack of experience of some of my players who replaced (suspended) Sorin Paraschiv and Banel Nicolita, upset our whole system once we went 2-0 up.

"My players believed themselves to be in the final after half an hour but even so such a defeat is difficult to understand. We lost our heads and we missed a huge opportunity to get through."

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