MATCH REPORT: Boro 2 Marseille 0

Boro rounded off their pre-season campaign with a hearty 2-0 win over Marseille, in front of a 14,000-strong crowd at the Riverside Stadium.

A lightning-quick breakaway goal from Isaiah Jones and a cool crisp finish by Marcus Tavernier ensured Chris Wilder ended Boro’s pre-season preparations in the perfect fashion, against a team brimming with international experience.

The Ligue 1 outfit will be challenging against Europe’s elite in the Champions League next term but it was the Teessiders who start the contest the brighter of the two, claiming the majority of possession in the game’s early exchanges. 

Duncan Watmore’s harrying earned the hosts a free-kick just outside the area but Marcus Tavernier was unable to test Pau Lopez in the Marseille goal. 

Just minutes later, Boro broke quickly down the right through Matt Crooks with Isaiah Jones’ whipped delivery slightly in front of a lurking Tavernier.

The quality of the Ligue 1 side then started to show and Arkadiusz Milik could have bagged a first-half hat-trick if it wasn’t for some wayward finishing and a fine save from newly-signed goalkeeper Zack Steffen, who this week joined on a season-long loan from Manchester City.

The Poland international dragged two efforts wide of the post in quick succession before Steffen’s considerable presence blocked his right-footed strike. 

In an eventful few minutes for the Marseille frontman, Milik was then unable to capitalise on a loose backpass from Anfernee Dijksteel as Steffen’s decisiveness spared his team-mates’ blushes.

With just eight days until the start of the new Championship season, Chris Wilder fielded the same 11 for the start of the second period, which started in a similar vein to the opening 45.

After grabbing three assists against Morecambe on Tuesday, Ryan Giles was unfortunate not to add another to his collection as his low cut-back found Matt Crooks in the area, but his first-time shot was well-stopped by Lopez.

Though Boro didn’t have long to wait before the deadlock was broken. 

Isaiah Jones’ charge upfield was briefly intercepted by last defender Leo Balerdi, but his persistence paid off as the Boro man quickly robbed the ball back before slipping it under Lopez, to give the Teessiders a well-deserved lead.

Marcus Tavernier then put the game beyond any doubt 20 minutes later, coolly slotting the ball into the bottom right corner after some great hold-up play on the edge of the area from Matt Crooks.

Moments later, it could have been three. Riley McGree connected vigorously with a first-time volley but Lopez did well to push the goalbound strike to safety.

In the dying embers of the game, Ryan Giles also had an opportunity to add to the scoreline, meeting substitute Chuba Akpom’s inch-perfect cross, though the Wolves loanee was unable to divert his effort on target.

Zack Steffen also produced a fine save with just moments to go to keep his clean sheet intact, saving Cedric Bakambu’s close-range shot before Jonathan Clauss could only fire the rebound into the side-netting.

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