August 10, 2014 by bluenosebible
Middlesbrough 2-0 Birmingham City
Written by: Oliver Osborn
Birmingham City have started the season with a 2-0 defeat against a strong Middlesbrough side at the Riverside.
Goals from Spaniards Daniel Ayala and Kike either side of half-time sealed the victory for the Teesiders, who’ll be looking to progress from their mid-table finish last season.
But questions will be asked of the away side after failing to take their good pre-season into the opening match of the campaign.
Aitor Karanka’s side started the brighter with Lee Tomlin hitting of a couple of efforts just off target from outside the area.
Blues were happy to take the pressure from Boro’s front men as they looked to threaten on the counter attack, similarly to their tactics last season away from home.
Demarai Gray picked up a free kick just outside the box with his first chance to run at the home defence, but his effort went just wide of the right hand post.
A corner by Grant Leadbitter from the right was delivered into an inviting position before the unmarked centre-half powerful nodded the ball past Darren Randolph for the opener.
Their lead was almost doubled within minutes as George Friend failed to keep his composure from close range after beating a couple of players, but his shot flew well wide.
After the break, Middlesbrough continued to control the game and several good saves from Randolph denied the Teesiders a win by a bigger margin.
With Blues pushing forward more to find an equaliser, winger Albert Adomah found himself in aches of space on several occasions and the Blues’ goalkeeper did well to deny the Ghanaian each time.
At another set-piece the away side looked vulnerable Ayala found himself with a free header, but couldn’t direct his effort on target.
Just past the hour mark, Boro did extend their lead through Kike after more poor defending from the away side.
From just eight yards out, Kike volleyed home the easiest of chances to score his first goal since his summer arrival from Murcia.
The introduction of Clayton Donaldson failed to lift Lee Clark’s side, who failed to even record a shot on target throughout the match.
Boro substitute Emilio Nsue had an attempt well kept out from Randolph late on and it was the final action in a bad day at the office for Birmingham.
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka:
“It was very good; a very good result and performance. You never know in the first game of the season.
“We started in the same way as we finished last season, with confidence.”
Birmingham manager Lee Clark:
“What has been frustrating is we were quite negative. We did not look confident and I do not understand it because we have had a great pre-season.
“The stat of no shots on target tells its own story. It’s a little reality check but it’s not the end of the world. I have total belief in the players and we can bounce back.”
Starting line up: Randolph; Eardley, Hall, Robinson, Grounds; Edgar, Gleeson, Gray, Shinnie (Duffy 55′), Novak; Thomas (Donaldson 67′)
Subs not used: Doyle, Gunning, Caddis, Brown, Cotterill
Man of the match: Lee Tomlin