Middlesbrough 0 Villarreal 2
MIDDLESBROUGH rounded off their preparations for the new season with a 2-0 defeat to Villarreal at the Riverside.
First half goals from Gerard Balaguero and Leiva secured the win for the Spanish side in a game that saw Kike, James Husband and Emilio Nsue make their home debuts for the Teessiders.
Boro head coach Aitor Karanka hopes to add more new faces to his squad before next Saturday’s season opener against Birmingham City.
The visitors produced the first shot on goal with less than two minutes on the clock when former Tottenham forward Giovanni Dos Santos forced a finger-tip save from Tomas Mejias.
Boro responded well, though, with new striker Kike going close with a low shot which was saved by Sanchez Martinez.
Dos Santos tested Mejias from range again with another dangerous strike that flew inches over the Boro keeper’s as both sides pushed for an opener.
The hosts though they had it when Daniel Ayala pounced to score after Martinez had parried Kike’s header into his path, but the defender’s effort was ruled out by the linesman’s flag.
It looked the right decision, but in the 23rd minute Villarreal took the lead.
A low cross was diverted into the path of Gerard Balaguero by Mejias and the striker made no mistake when he drilled his shot past the Boro keeper and in.
Kike went close to equalising for the hosts when he connected with Albert Adomah’s cross, but the striker’s glancing header went wide of the far post.
The Spanish side then doubled their lead on the stroke of half time when Balaguero found Leiva inside the area to score with a powerful shot into the roof of the net.
With both sides making several changes in the second half, chances were at the premium. The closest Boro came to pulling a goal back came from Lee Tomlin’s curling free-kick, before sub Bradley Fewster lashed a first time effort wide with ten minutes to go.
Middlesbrough (4-2-3-1): Mejias (Konstantopoulos, 60); Bennett (Hines, 46), Ayala, Gibson, Friend; Whitehead, Butterfield (Leadbitter, 58); Adomah (L Williams, 58), Tomlin (Husband, 73), Reach (Nsue, 76); Kike (Fewster, 76).
Subs (not used): Smallwood, Halliday, Burgess.
Villarreal (4-4-2): Sanchez Martinez (Andreas, 46), Perez Martinez (Rukavina, 46), D Ramirez (Abreu, 73), Pineda, Jorda (Isla, 63); Cherysev (Rodriquez, 63), Llido (S Ramirez, 73), Munoz (Uche, 63), Leiva; Dos Santos (Cani, 46), Balaguero (Gomez, 63).
Referee: Mark Clattenburg