MARK SCHWARZER acknowledges that UEFA Cup rookies Middlesbrough will have to learn from the lesson dished out by Sporting Lisbon - or risk waving goodbye to future European nights.

Boro face a huge task next week when they travel to Lisbon knowing they need at least two goals to give them any chance of making progress to the quarter-finals.

The three away goals scored by Sporting on Thursday - as the Teessiders lost out 3-2 at the Riverside Stadium in front of their own supporters - highlighted the gulf in class between the two sides.

The fact that Boro have so many of their first team ruled out through injury certainly did not help matters and Schwarzer insists the tie is not over yet.

But the Australian international believes there will have to be massive improvements from the Premiership outfit if they are to stand any chance of booking a place in the last eight.

"We gave the ball away in bad areas on Thursday but that's not been the case in other recent games," said Schwarzer, who has a free weekend to prepare for the trip to Portugal for the second leg next Thursday.

"In each position we gave the ball away; Sporting capitalised and that shows what a quality side they are.

"They made it hard for us. We can't make those sort of mistakes at any level, especially in Europe. You always know that you can't give the ball away but at this level it just highlights it.

"Sporting are an attacking side and they will put us under a lot more pressure at their ground, but they put us under a lot of pressure at the Riverside."

Schwarzer insists there is a determination to make next week's return leg at the Estadio Jose Alvalade act as a turning point for Boro who have not enjoyed the best of years so far.

Disappointing league form, having taken just seven points from nine games, has led to them dropping out of the top six and hopes of playing in Europe again next season are fading - with exits from both the FA Cup and Carling Cup already long gone.

The character Steve McClaren's side showed to claw themselves back from three goals down against Sporting - courtesy of Joseph Job and Chris Riggott strikes - have certainly lifted spirits.

But Schwarzer, who has been part of a back five in recent years that has prided itself on its miserly ways, believes there needs to be a return to those days if there is to be any chance of enjoying the club's second European campaign.

"We have to sit down as a group and go over what's going wrong," said Schwarzer, who has conceded six goals in his last three games. "We have a lot of players out through injury and that's well-documented because we haven't got a large squad.

"When you are at this stage of the competition you are up against top quality opposition and we came unstuck a little but it's a lifeline to get the two goals and hopefully we can go out to Lisbon and turn it around.

"We knew Sporting were a quality side and they showed that. They were always going to put us under pressure and it was frustrating that we couldn't keep them out. It's going to make it very tough for us but we're still confident.

"The ball always seemed to bounce in their favour and that cost us. But to put your finger on why we are conceding more goals now than we have done before is another thing.

"We haven't had the results over the last few weeks that we'd have wanted. But we are not out of the race to get the UEFA Cup position in the league yet and we are not out of this competition.

"The league places are still there for the taking and we can still achieve that goal. That is a definite. We have to return to winning ways quickly."

Schwarzer also paid tribute to striker Job, whose incredible goal sparked a Boro revival.

The Cameroon forward had to suffer the embarrassment of being overlooked for 19-year-old Danny Graham from the start, but the more experienced man came off the bench to score a breathtaking overhead kick.

And Schwarzer said: "Joseph's was fantastic and it was one of those that he will keep on video and watch over and over again in future years.

"We were stunned to be 3-0 down and, credit to Joseph, he came on and we got a lifeline through his great goal.

"It gave us the opportunity to go forward and sometimes it happens like that.