MILLWALL chief Ian Holloway said the result was “probably my worst in football” but it proved just the fillip Boro chief Aitor Karanka needed after an eventful seven days during which he had been charged by the FA for allegedly pushing a fourth official and seen assistant head coach Craig Hignett leave the club.
The Lions were blown away by a first-half hat-trick from Jelle Vossen and goals from Patrick Bamford and Kike completed the visitors’ scoring, with Scott McDonald netting a consolation.
“I’m very pleased with the reaction,” said the Riverside chief. “It’s been a difficult week for everyone, especially me, and the players have been brilliant. It was a very good performance in a difficult stadium.”
Belgian striker Vossen joined in September but had gone 12 games without a goal.
The 25-year-old thought he had opened his account after two minutes but David Forde clawed his effort out and play was waved on. He did not have to wait long and, in the 21st minute, Kenneth Omeruo sent a ball over the top and Vossen raced onto it and hooked in a fantastic finish.
Seven minutes later, Boro doubled their lead through Chelsea loanee Bamford, and it was three when Vossen tucked in Adam Reach’s cross.
Just before half-time Vossen completed his treble, tucking away the rebound after Forde had blocked Bamford’s initial effort.
McDonald bagged a consolation from close range only for Kike to reply within seconds with a shot in off the post.
Millwall: Forde, Dunne, Webster (Shittu 46), Williams, Wilkinson, Upson (Woolford 70), Powell (Gueye 46), Malone, McDonald, Gregory, Fuller. Unused substitutes: Easter, Briggs, Martinez, King.
Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos, Nsue, Omeruo, Ayala, Friend, Adomah, Leadbitter, Clayton (Veljkovic 63), Reach (Wildschut 81), Vossen (Garcia 71), Bamford. Unused substitutes: Gibson, Tomlin, Whitehead, Mejias.
Referee: M Russell (Hertfordshire).
Man of the match: Jelle Vossen.