Calum Chambers started and picked up a yellow card as Middlesbrough made hard work of their FA Cup tie with Oxford.
Boro eventually won the game 3-2, but it was not without it’s nervy moments for the hosts. A second-half comeback from the Us seemed to have done enough to earn them a replay.
Middlesbrough had made six changes to their starting lineup, but Calum Chambers retained his place in the heart of the defence. Boro took the lead in the first half through Grant Leadbitter from the spot after Stewart Downing had been fouled in the box. They doubled their lead through Rudy Gestede eight minutes later. This was the first time Aitor Karanka’s men had scored two first half goals in 2017.
A superb free-kick from Oxford’s Chris Maguire, the same player who had given away the penalty in the first half, carved Boro’s lead in two in the second half. Oxford levelled exactly 60 seconds later, when Toni Martinez scored from close range.
The winner came with just four minutes remaining, enough to break Oxford hearts but send Chambers and co through to the quarter finals draw on Sunday. Cristhian Stuani, on as a sub, tapped in from the back post to seal a dramatic 3-2 win.
Boro will no doubt feel they deserved the win on the back of their first half performance. During those 45 minutes they managed not only two goals but seven shots on target – more than they’ve managed in any game this season.
“It was a typical FA Cup game, so when you think everything is under control you concede two goals in one minute,” Karanka said at full time.
“If you lose your attention, even against a League One team, it is the biggest mistake. To compete in this country you always have to play 150%, even teams two divisions lower can create you problems.
“Three years ago I don’t think anyone would believe we would be in the Premier League and the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.”
Chambers picked up his yellow card in the 71st minute for a late challenge.