7:42pm Saturday 21st December 2013
MIDDLESBROUGH claimed a much-needed pre-Christmas boost as two second-half goals secured a 2-0 win over Millwall.
Emmanuel Ledesma and Albert Adomah found the target as Aitor Karanka claimed the second win of his Boro career at the New Den.
Karanka made five changes to the side that lost against Brighton last weekend, with Jozsef Varga, Ben Gibson, Richie Smallwood, Marvin Emnes and Curtis Main all coming into the starting line-up.
The visitors shaded a low key first half that contained few chances, with Gibson flashing a header wide on the stroke of half-time as he met Ledesma's corner.
Millwall's best first-half opening saw Alan Dunne drill in a low strike that was saved by Shay Given, and with the hosts lacking fluency in all areas of the field, Boro claimed a deserved lead four minutes after the break.
Ledesma was a first-half replacement for the injured Mustapha Carayol, and the winger rounded off a slick move with a fierce left-footted shot from outside the area that flew into the Millwall net.
Boro were the better side for the majority of the second half, but Given was called into action again to save Steve Morison's headed effort midway through the second period.
Smallwood failed to find the target with a rising strike shortly after, and Main saw a decent effort blocked as the visitors continued to make most of the running.
Liam Trotter wasted a decent opening with ten minutes left, and Millwall were made to pay as Boro doubled their lead in the 89th minute.
Ledesma fed the ball to Adomah, and the former Bristol City winger raced clear from the halfway line before rounding the Millwall goalkeeper to stroke home his eighth goal of the season.
MILLWALL: Forde; Dunne, Malone, Abdou (Keogh 73), Robinson; Beevers, Feeney, Trotter; McDonald (Easter 62), Morison, Woolford.
Subs (not used): Bywater (gk), Shittu, Lowry, Moussi, Smith.
MIDDLESBROUGH: Given; Varga, Ayala, Gibson, Friend; Whitehead, Smallwood; Adomah, Emnes (Butterfield 74), Carayol (Ledesma 32); Main (Jutkiewicz 84).
Subs (not used): Konstantopoulos (gk), Hines, Haroun, Williams.
© Copyright 2001-2015 Newsquest Media Group