Returning Jordan Rhodes hurts Middlesbrough as Huddersfield march on

Former Middlesbrough striker Jordan Rhodes returned to Riverside to help Huddersfield to a 2-0 win that keeps their hopes of finishing in the top two alive.

Rhodes, who never scored at home during his time with Boro between February 2016 and July 2017, set up Naby Sarr’s first goal four minutes before half-time.

And the 32-year-old scored just his second of the season on the hour to secure the win that keeps Huddersfield in touch with second-placed Bournemouth.

Middlesbrough, relegated to eighth place, have gone four games without a win after suffering their third successive league defeat at Riverside without scoring a goal.

With Middlesbrough hoping to get back into the top six and Huddersfield focused on promotion, the stakes were high in this fixture.

It was obvious in terms of time, although neither team could find a clear chance in the first 20 minutes.

The best Middlesbrough created during that spell was when Paddy McNair’s cross was met by Riley McGree’s volley into the box. Huddersfield defender Harry Toffolo did just enough to help the midfielder’s touch into the arms of goalkeeper Lee Nicholls.

After Sorba Thomas tried his luck from 40 yards approaching the other end when he saw Luke Daniels off his line, Marcus Tavernier had an effort wide for a corner.

Then suddenly, Daniels was forced into real action. After Sol Bamba’s tremendous back pass left the keeper with no choice but to reach and collect, Huddersfield fired a free kick into the home team’s penalty area.

Rhodes was denied from 12 yards by Daniels’ outstretched left hand in a crowded area and seconds later, Daniels was on the alert to take down a looping header from Sarr.

Sarr could not be denied four minutes before the break. When Thomas hit a free kick over Bamba’s head at the back post, Rhodes nodded to the six-yard box where Sarr was available to head past Daniels.

Huddersfield also created the first chance of the second period, when Daniels did well to avoid being hit by substitute Josh Koroma after Rhodes brought him down in the 54th minute.

That was enough for manager Chris Wilder to change form. Bamba left and forward Josh Coburn entered as a third forward, and more like an attacking figurehead. But as soon as Middlesbrough started to threaten more, Huddersfield responded and added the second.

A lovely pass from Lewis O’Brien freed Rhodes, who was put into wide position by Marc Bola, and Boro’s old man finished perfectly inside the top corner of Daniels’ net.

Middlesbrough struggled to make an impact in the final third and the best they could do was in the closing stages when McGree curled brilliantly against the bar and Tavernier’s rebound was well blocked by Pipa.

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