ONE of South America's finest, Juninho, upstaged an England player of similar ilk, Kieron Dyer, last night.

The pair have so much in common on a football pitch, and at the Riverside it was time for them to go head-to-head.

There was no doubt just how highly Newcastle United boss Sir Bobby Robson rated Middlesbrough's little Brazilian.

And for those left wondering just how much, then within quarter of an hour Gary Speed, Titus Bramble and Dyer himself all made their presence felt on the returning star.

Further proof was the fact that by the full-time whistle all three of Newcastle's bookings had come for fouls on Juninho.

But if that uncompromising tactic employed by the experienced Robson was designed to silence Juninho for the rest of the game it did not have the desired effect.

There will not be a manager in the Premiership who will not be aware of what the samba star is capable of.

And on the evidence of last night - his first start since signing for a third time in the summer - there is going to be plenty more to come.

Juninho may have made a goal-scoring return against Everton on Saturday - when he came on as a second-half substitute - but even the most hardened Boro fan will tell you he was largely a peripheral figure on that day.

And after spending six months on the sidelines through injury, few will have expected him to have come through his first full game with such flying colours against Newcastle.

Signs of everything you would expect from a Juninho performance were there to see last night.

The darting runs off the ball and the probing runs with it. The tracking back when Newcastle had possession was a joy to see for the home fans who had turned out in a abundance to see the prodigal son's return. Juninho may have been the star of this show but there were glimpses of what one of England's finest has to offer.

It took Dyer just seconds to show he is also useful when he is going at defences.

And on one occasion his tremendous running led to the former Ipswich man dispossessing Juninho in the middle of the park.

But if there is one thing Dyer can improve that's his finishing - even Robson admits to that.

Two times in the first half the young schemer should have at least found the target when getting into good positions, but Mark Schwarzer did not even have to move.

This was Juninho's night again though. And remember he is still not 100 per cent fit yet.