Cristhian Stuani came off the bench to steal what could have been a remarkable day for Oxford United. Down two goals at the half, Oxford never gave up hope and never stopped working. I became a fan today, of not only Toni Martinez, the West Ham United loanee, but of Oxford in general. The squad showed their quality and heart and left nothing on the pitch. It all started with a beautiful free kick in the 65th minute by veteran, Chris Maguire.
Less than a minute later, Oxford decided they weren’t done. Away from home, down a goal, they pushed on and took the fight to a Middlesbrough side who looked a bit shell-shocked. Maguire once again led the attack and had a far post shot deflected wide that fell right to, who else, Toni Martinez. The 19 year old prospect from East London buried the shot as if he’d done so hundreds of times prior, equalizing the match and negating what was a dominating first half for Boro.
Sadly, Álvaro Negredo came on in the 85th minute and helped set up a cross that surprisingly slipped through the defense and towards the back post where an eager Stuani was waiting. Stuani’s heartbreaking finish sealed the match as well as the tournament for the young Oxford side, but they walked off the pitch with their heads held high. They earned the respect of many viewers, and of course, of Middlesbrough players and fans in attendance.
Toni Martinez has been seeing plenty of first team action over at Oxford, and has impressed both the organization and fans. In fact, Martinez scored a lovely header in his debut against Newcastle. Safe to say, this is one loan spell that is proving to be greatly beneficial to both clubs and player.