MiddlesbroughMiddlesbrough2BirminghamBirmingham City0

Middlesbrough 2-0 Birmingham City

Middlesbrough's Grant Leadbitter and Birmingham's Grant Hill challenge for the ball
Middlesbrough had not won an opening-day game since 2008

Former Liverpool defender Daniel Ayala's goal helped earn Middlesbrough victory as Birmingham's Championship campaign started with defeat.

The Spanish defender, 23, put Boro ahead after nodding home Grant Leadbitter's first-half corner.

Demarai Gray went closest for Birmingham, the 18-year-old clipping a 30-yard free-kick narrowly over.

But Boro's Enrique Garcia sealed the points from 10 yards after Lee Tomlin's deflected shot fell into his path.

This was a solid start for Middlesbrough's Spanish boss Aitor Karanka.

Singing the Blues
Birmingham are without a win in seven Championship games, six of which have ended in defeat.

The 40-year-old, appointed last November, has strengthened his side since seeing them finish last season with six wins from the final eight league games.

Nine of Birmingham's 11 league wins last season had come on the road but they found no joy on Teesside once Ayala had out-jumped the visitors defence in the 33rd minute to open the scoring.

Within one minute of kick-off, England Under-21 international defender Ben Gibson came off because of injury, but this failed to disrupt Boro.

They continued to press forward and almost doubled their advantage when Albert Adomah fired straight at the onrushing keeper Darren Randolph just after half-time.

Randolph came to his side's rescue again, parrying George Friend's header wide before Garcia - nicknamed 'Kike' - doubled the lead in the 67th minute.

Middlesbrough v Birmingham
Birmingham City have not won an opening day fixture since overcoming Sheffield United on 9 August 2008

The former Spain Under-20 international showed great technique, slotting a controlled volley into the corner after Tomlin's initial effort had been blocked.

The Spaniard later missed a golden opportunity to add another following a well worked set-piece with Tomlin.

Positives were in short supply for Birmingham. They did go close through Gray's 17th-minute set-piece.

But Blues boss Lee Clark, who saw his side escape relegation to League One on the final day of last season, looks as though he has his work cut out.

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."

Birmingham fans at Middlesbrough
Birmingham fans saw their team win nine times away from home last season
Middlesbrough fans celebrate against Birmingham
Middlesbrough fans had not seen their side win an opening day fixture since beating Tottenham 2-1 in 2008
Birmingham manager Lee Clark
Birmingham manager Lee Clark saw his side lose 24 times in the Championship last season



Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 40Mejias
  • 15Hines
  • 3Friend
  • 7Leadbitter
  • 6GibsonSubstituted forOmeruoat 4'minutes
  • 4AyalaBooked at 62mins
  • 27AdomahSubstituted forNsueat 67'minutes
  • 18Whitehead
  • 9Kike
  • 10TomlinSubstituted forWilliamsat 87'minutes
  • 20Reach


  • 13Konstantopoulos
  • 14Williams
  • 17Husband
  • 22Omeruo
  • 24Nsue
  • 30Fewster
  • 33Smallwood


Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Randolph
  • 2EardleyBooked at 55mins
  • 4Robinson
  • 6Edgar
  • 15Hall
  • 3Grounds
  • 22ShinnieSubstituted forDuffyat 55'minutes
  • 8Gleeson
  • 12Novak
  • 10ThomasSubstituted forDonaldsonat 67'minutes
  • 33Gray


  • 5Gunning
  • 7Duffy
  • 9Donaldson
  • 11Cotterill
  • 21Doyle
  • 29Brown
  • 31Caddis
Graham Salisbury

Match Stats

Home TeamMiddlesbroughAway TeamBirmingham
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Middlesbrough 2, Birmingham City 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Middlesbrough 2, Birmingham City 0.

  3. Post update

    Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Jonathan Grounds.

  4. Post update

    Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Darren Randolph.

  5. Post update

    Attempt saved. Luke Williams (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Emilio Nsue.

  6. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Emilio Nsue (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Grant Leadbitter.

  7. Substitution

    Substitution, Middlesbrough. Luke Williams replaces Lee Tomlin.

  8. Post update

    Dangerous play by Lee Novak (Birmingham City).

  9. Post update

    Daniel Ayala (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  10. Post update

    Foul by Demarai Gray (Birmingham City).

  11. Post update

    Dean Whitehead (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  12. Post update

    Delay over. They are ready to continue.

  13. Post update

    Delay in match Sebastian Hines (Middlesbrough) because of an injury.

  14. Post update

    Foul by David Edgar (Birmingham City).

  15. Post update

    George Friend (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  16. Post update

    Paul Robinson (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Lee Tomlin (Middlesbrough).

  18. Post update

    Attempt saved. Emilio Nsue (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  19. Post update

    Foul by Sebastian Hines (Middlesbrough).

  20. Post update

    Demarai Gray (Birmingham City) wins a free kick on the left wing.