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Southgate: Middlesbrough fans, Brazil flags inspired victory

Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate admits the Riverside reaction to new signing Afonso Alves was key in their 2-0 victory over Fulham on Saturday.

Having squandered a number of chances (principally via Robert Huth) Boro were sitting on their 1-0 lead with an increasing degree of discomfort until their manager pitched Alves into the fray. The £12.7m club record signing had no chance to show the goal-poaching pedigree that yielded 45 goals in 39 games for Heerenveen, but the roar from the crowd, accompanied by the waving of 10,000 miniature Brazilian flags, provided the vital lift that Boro needed.

"I knew the sort of reception that Afonso would get and I knew if we did it at half-time we wouldn't get that added impetus," Southgate said. "I knew he would struggle physically because he's not ready yet. But I had to counter that with the lift it would give the crowd for 20 minutes and the fact that he might just pinch something on the break for us. Afonso will be an asset but we'll have to give him time."

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