Middlesbrough FC 1 Bolton Wanderers 0

Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka knows he must quickly get used to the relentless tempo of the Championship

Middlesbrough players celebrate after scoring against Bolton
Middlesbrough players celebrate after scoring against Bolton

Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka knows he must quickly get used to the relentless tempo of the Championship.

Not just on the pitch but also in the fixture calendar where tough games come thick and fast.

The Spaniard – Jose Mourinho’s assistant at Real Madrid before joining the Teessiders – was beaming after Boro beat form side Bolton 1-0 on his Riverside dug-out debut.

However, he is already hard at work preparing for a midweek trip to Steve McClaren’s Derby then another game at Birmingham at the weekend.

Karanka said: “I am learning very quickly his is a league where you play a lot of games.

“In England, in the Championship, you play a lot more games than we do in Spain.

“I came here and there was an international break so we had 10 days to work and train with the team, but since then it has been very busy with matches.

“We have three games this week.

“After Bolton we have a game on Wednesday and then next Saturday. All the players like that, they are used to that pattern.

“For me, I must work very quickly on the next game. One game is gone and you must work immediately on the next one so it is not much time to prepare.”

Karanka started with a narrow 2-1 10-man defeat at Leeds last week but bounced back as his side edged out Bolton in a close-fought game which was a tale of two spots kicks.

Boro scored their own penalty, Grant Leadbitter lashing home, but Bolton missed theirs – Jermaine Beckford glancing the crossbar in the final minute.

That gave Karanka a first victory and a first clean sheet on a day when it was all scripted for the Basque boss to deliver.

Boro had prepared a massive orchestrated greeting for the new boss with a cut-price ticket offer luring the biggest crowd of the season so far.

Before the game thousands of bright red “Karanka-chiefs” were waved in an echo of festivals like the Pamplona bull run at one end of the pitch while hundreds of Spanish, Basque and Boro flags were also on display.

The new boss admitted he was touched by the welcome.

He added: “It was very emotional for me.

“From the moment I signed the contract I had dreamed of the first home game and the greeting I got from our supporters, made it very special. I want to say the way they made me welcome and the support they gave the team – and the result - made it a perfect day for me.

“The day was like a dream but it nearly turned into a nightmare when I saw Bolton had won the penalty so late on in the game.

“I feared it would be like at Leeds when we had worked so hard to get into a good position in the game and then conceded from a late mistake. However, they missed and so I could go home happy and the supporters could go home happy. It was a good day.”

It was a cautious and close-fought first half with chances at premium, although Boro had the best of them.

George Friend dragged a low shot wide and from a corner Ben Gibson headed outside the far post - then there was a penalty shot as Jacob Butterfield’s shot hit a defender’s hand but the referee waved play on.rted brightly after the break and almost drew first blood on 53 minutes as Beckford burst free into the box but his angled effort flew well wide of the far post.

Then soon after Kevin McNaughton chipped over the Boro defence for Beckford to beat the offside flag but his 20 yard volley screamed over.

Boro went close on 70 minutes as substitute striker Curtis Main cut in from the right to flash a low 20 yard effort just wide of the far post.

Boro won a penalty on 82 minutes as Marvin Emnes was hauled down as he tried to control a Rhys Williams cross and Grant Leadbitter calmly slotted home.

Bolton could have levelled with a penalty of their own on 88 minutes as Williams brought down Andre Moritz on the right of the box but a nervously looking Beckford grazed the bar.

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