Burton Albion's hopes of making the Capital One Cup third round for the third year in a row were dashed by Championship big hitters Middlesbrough but it took extra time and a quality goal from Uruguayan striker Christian Stuani deep into extra time to secure the Teesiders passage into the next stage. Stuani had earlier equalised for the visitors after George Friend had inadvertently put the ball into his own net when Jonathan Woodgate's attempted clearance cannoned back off the defender and past his own keeper.
It took the introduction of former England winger Stewart Downing to unlock the stubborn Brewers defence with a powerful run that created the chance for Stuani to deliver the knockout blow and for the second round in a row complete a brace to guarantee victory. Albion, though, can take great credit and heart from their performance where they were anything but overawed in the face of quality opposition.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink made the maximum use of his squad in making eight changes to the side that overcame Peterborough United in the League on Saturday. Remi Matthews returned in goal after being a part of the side that humbled Bolton Wanderers in the first round. Tom Naylor, one of just three survivors from the weekend, switched to right back with Anthony O'Connor next to him, Shane Cansdell-Sherriff taking the skippers armband and Jerome Binnom-Williams completing the back four. Lucas Akins returned on the right side of midfield, Robbie Weir and Calum Butcher renewing their partnership from the Blackpool game and Callum Reilly coming in on the left. Matty Palmer tucked in just behind full debutant Aurelien Joachim.
Albion quickly exerted some pressure on the Middlesbrough defence with Palmer's free kick leading to a corner that was whipped in towards the near post where Tomas Mejias in the Boro goal fumbled as Shane Cansdell-Sherriff at the near post dummied the ball.
Middlesbrough bared their teeth after nine minutes with a corner kick routine that was cleared away by Binnom-Williams, Joachim making the most of it to pick the pocket of a defender and make room for a shot that deflected up and almost over Mejias with the keeper gratefully grabbing the ball above his head.
The visitors soon began to dominate possession but Albion's disciplined defending and pressing kept them at arms length on the whole. Adam Reach did get in a good position to cross the ball in from the right on seventeen minutes and although Christian Stuani got a meaty heady to the ball at the back post it was an easy take for Matthews.
Stuani soon found himself in the notebook of referee Mark Brown. Making a burst into the box on the left he evaded the challenge of Binnom-Williams who got a toe end on the ball but then went to ground as Matthews came out to challenge him. The Uruguayan international went down far too easily for Mr Brown's liking and he was shown the yellow card.
Albion gabbed the lead in slightly fortuitous circumstances just over half way through the first period. Palmer delivered another set piece after Joachim had been fouled 30 yards out. Under pressure from Akins, looking to capitalise Woodgate hit the ball against FRIEND and could only watch as it ricocheted back off his colleague into the back of the net.
Middlesbrough almost came up with an equaliser on 32 minutes, Reach finding space inside the box to swivel and hit a left foot shot but his radar was slightly off firing wide from a good position. Midfield comrade Adam Forshaw also went close with a thumping header that went wide from a teasing Grant Leadbitter cross as the Championship side got closer to levelling things up.
Stuani scuffed a good chance wide with just under five minutes to the break. Boro broke down the right and got into the box with the ball played across and the striker pulling his shot wide from ten yards.
Half time: Burton Albion 1-0 Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough started brightly after the break but it was Joachim who created the first chance with an acrobatic effort from a long way out that Mejias was able to clutch at his near post.
Reach found space on the edge of the box to try his luck but as the Burton defence closed him down he lifted his effort well clear of Matthews goal.
Leadbitter and Kike got themselves in a right mess trying to clear an Albion corner and from Albion's second attempt the ball found its way through to Cansdell-Sherriff who, on his wrong foot, could not quite guide it wide of the keeper.
Joachim found himself alongside Stuani in referee Brown's book for bundling Chelsea loanee Tomas Kalas off the ball to the right side of the penalty area.
Calum Butcher escaped a card for his attempts to bring down Forshaw as he got close to the penalty area after a lung bursting run through the centre but Boro's set pieces failed to threaten in the same way that Palmer had for the Brewers earlier.
Substitute Diego Fabbrini had certainly livened up the Boro attack with some pacy runs down the left and when Naylor sent him sprawling it gave Leadbitter chance to send in a whipped free kick that O'Connor had to intercept at the near post. Matthews was certainly having a busier time of it now and Forshaw sent a shot crashing in that rebounded out for another thumping save that the Norwich loanee did well to scramble clear. Friend then almost atoned for his earlier own goal with a towering header that flew just wide of the goal.
Stuani worked room for a shot on the edge of the area that fortunately for Albion deflected out off Cansdell-Sherriff for a corner that Albion were eventually able to clear.
Aitor Karanka sent on another of his big guns with 25 minutes remaining, Downing replacing Reach and taking up a central role to try and start pulling the strings for the Championship side.
The visitors were cranking up the pressure and just as it was looking like Albion might have luck on their side and get through to the end with another notable scalp Boro eqaualised with twenty minutes to go. It was relatively straightforward in the end as Kalas sent in the perfect curling cross from the right and STUANI met it perfectly in the middle to steer it past Matthews.
Albion very quickly had a chance to regain the lead, Butcher going on a strong run into the Boro box but unsure whether to shoot or cross he sent the ball across the six yard box failing to trouble Mejias.
A quarter of an hour remained when Albion made their first change of the evening, Phil Edwards slotting in to his normal right back slot with Tom Naylor pushing forward to fill the gap left by Akins departure from the action.
Fabbrini saw a shot blocked and Downing put a drilled effort into the side netting as Boro sensed a winner was in the offing within the remainder of normal time.
Another Fabbrini effort looped up off a Burton foot and had Matthews scrambling as the ball dropped just over the crossbar and giving Albion another corner to deal with.
Middlesbrough broke quickly from a Burton corner as the clock began to run down towards the dreaded extra time and there were a few hearts in mouths when Downing picked up the ball and found space to test Matthews but the young keeper was equal to it.
Inevitably it was all set for half an hour of extra time as the visitors, despite a strong second half showing, failed to make their dominance count with a winner.
90 minutes: Burton Albion 1-1 Middlesbrough
Kike, who had not had the best of evenings to now almost grabbed the lead with a curling shot in the early stages of extra time and Matthews wasnt sure it was going wide after diving full stretch but the Spaniard was just off target with his effort.
Leadbitter escaped with a yellow card after a nasty looking challenge that left Naylor in a heap. There was malice in the challenge but there was no doubting that it was late and more that a little dangerous.
Boro used their last change to replace Woodgate, who seemed to be struggling towards the end of normal time and his place was taken by Emilio Nsue. The Brewers quickly made their last substitution as well with Hasselbaink hoping that a cameo appearance from Nasser El Khayati might break the deadlock, Tom Naylor making way.
Palmer quickly fizzed a dipping effort just over Mejias' crossbar after a useful knockdown from Thiele had put the ball into his path.
Kike failed to profit when O'Connor just failed to cut out a superbly dinked pass and Matthews closed down the space to deny him a shot.
The second half of extra time started and it was clear than neither side were content to settle for the lottery of penalties. Thiele made a strong run into the penalty area but could not quite pick out Reilly in the middle and Leadbitter forced a superb reaction save from Matthews with a shot that took a wicked deflection. Little less than a minute later and Matthews was picking the ball out of the net after a quality move and finish that oozed Championship quality. Downing made a run down the down and quickly cut inside onto his left before looking up and picking out STUANI in the middle. The striker took a touch to kill the ball and then delivered the killer blow with a shot low into the bottom corner.
Kike tried to put the game to bed once and for all when he had two bites of the cherry deep inside Burton's penalty area but Albion's defence stood firm to the last.
Matthews came forward for a late corner which fizzled out as the referee spotted an infringement as the ball was delivered into the middle. It proved to be the last chance for Albion as Middlesbrough ensured it would be them entering the third round draw on this occasion.