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Allardyce hails Bolton battlers; UEFA CUP.

SAM ALLARDYCE believes Bolton are in sight of a place in the last 32 of the UEFA Cup after snatching a 1-1 draw in Portugal last night.

Bolton seemed to be heading for defeat when Marek Saganowski put Guimaraes ahead in the 86th minute, ghosing in at the far post to head home a cross from Targino.

But Bolton never know when they are beaten and substitute Ricardo Vaz Te equalised with two minutes remaining.

It was a sweet moment for the 19-year-old striker, who was born in Portugal and played for Farense before joining Bolton as a 16-year-old. Within one minute of coming on, he hammered home an unstoppable shot after a neat lay-off from El-Hadji Diouf.

Bolton boss Allardyce praised the youngster and the mental approach of his side.

"It could be the turning point of our UEFA Cup campaign," he said. "It has given us a massive opportunity to go forward.

"Ricardo, in his own country and coming on as sub, has produced a fantastic goal.

"The quality of the goal was the highlight of the night as it got us an important point.

"Ricardo does score goals, but he is only young. He has limited first- team experience.

"He's improving and a goal like this will give him a big boost. Hopefully he will get more chances to do that again."

"We have shown again that we can dig in and come back. It says a lot about the attitude and the fitness of the players.

"They go from the start to the end and never say die, no matter where we are.

"It really is a big ask. I don't want it to be like that, but thankfully we got a point because of that superb goal."

Middlesbrough boss Steve also McClaren praised his players for putting their European education to good use to claim a place in the knockout stages.

The Teessiders became the first side to stop Louis van Gaal's free-scoring AZ Alkmaar team from finding the back of the net in seven attempts so far this term with a gritty display at the Alkmaarderhout to cement their place at the top of Group D.

McClaren was delighted with the resilience of a side which did without the experience of Gareth Southgate and Franck Queudrue and the firepower of Aiyegbeni Yakubu but still headed home with a positive result.

Last season, Boro were taught a lesson by Villarreal in Spain at a similar stage of the competition, but this time around they were made of sterner stuff.

"I wouldn't say we are a better team," McClaren said. "Last season in the group stages we qualified quite easily.

"We knew this was probably the toughest game in the group and it was a good test for our players because Alkmaar are a very, very good team, very attacking and score plenty of goals.

"We have had five clean sheets - they know how to get results, they know how to play in Europe, and that's important when you come away from home."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Nov 25, 2005
Words:507
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