EUROPEAN football will take centre stage at Middlesbrough this season and, if last night's 3-1 win over Spanish side Real Mallorca is anything to go by, Steve McClaren's side are ready to handle whatever the continent has to offer.

Boro's final pre-season outing was the perfect European performance - slow but solid in the first half, before an early second-half blitz put the game beyond doubt. More of the same in this season's UEFA Cup will ensure many more nights like this on Teesside before May.

Bolo Zenden, Gaizka Mendieta and Joseph-Desire Job ensured Boro's only friendly at the Riverside would be a winning one and, while veteran centre-half Nadal scored a consolation for Mallorca, the home side's second-half display augurs well for the new campaign.

McClaren handed Riverside debuts to two of his summer signings, Ray Parlour and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, while a third, Zenden, made his first appearance as a full-time Boro player.

Parlour played at the heart of midfield, a position he is likely to fill when Boro kick off their Premiership campaign against Newcastle in nine days time, while Hasselbaink was partnered in attack by Job in the absence of hamstring victim Mark Viduka.

For much of the first half, the Spaniards played the kind of smart, one-touch football that Boro produced in patches last season.

Dutch striker Arnold Bruggink caused problems whenever he dropped deep to link with midfield, while the lively Marcos Vales provided genuine width on the right flank.

The pair almost combined to open the scoring in the sixth minute but, after Bruggink had deflected Vales' strike goalwards, Mark Schwarzer showed his reflexes had not suffered over the summer with a smart stop.

Juan Arango started impressively on the left flank against Tony McMahon, firing an audacious volley narrowly over the crossbar after a searching crossfield ball from Vales.

But the young full-back responded well and looks ready to step into Michael Reiziger's shoes should the Dutch international's shoulder injury sideline him for a prolonged spell.

Too much of Boro's first-half football was played in front of the Mallorca back four - a problem that was quickly remedied within nine minutes of the re-start.

The Mallorca defence went to sleep as Zenden ghosted inside right-back Alejandro Campano to produce a clinical finish that gave Moya no chance.

Zenden's strike heralded a rash of Mallorca substitutions but, before the game had settled back down, Mendieta doubled Boro's advantage, curling a 64th-minute free-kick from the left flank into the far corner of the net.

Job almost added a third shortly after but the striker got his reward in the 73rd minute when he slipped the ball past Moya after being set free by his Dutch strike partner Hasselbaink.

Mallorca completed the scoring when substitute Nadal was given the freedom of the penalty area to sweep home Vales' right-wing corner but, by that stage, Boro's work had been done.

Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Schwarzer, McMahon, Ehiogu, Southgate, Queudrue, Mendieta, Parlour, Boateng, Zenden, Job, Hasselbaink.

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