Middlesbrough 1-0 Sheffield United: Rudy Gestede heads winner
By Robert O'Connor
Last Updated: 12/08/17 9:10pm
Rudy Gestede's first-half header helped Middlesbrough to a deserved 1-0 win against Sheffield United in the club's first home game since relegation from the Premier League.
Gestede capitalised on a weak header from Blades centre back Chris Basham midway through the half to nod over 'keeper Jamal Blackman and give the hosts their first win of the season.
The game finished with controversy when a stoppage-time header from United's Jack O'Connell was ruled out for a contentious offside.
Rudy Gestede started in a front three with Patrick Bamford and Britt Assombalonga for Boro.Billy Sharp led the line for the Blades.
Boro gave home debuts to Ashley Fletcher and Chelsea loanee Lewis Baker in an impressive attacking display which was largely dominated by the hosts.
The Blades' Leon Clarke spurned the chance to give his side the lead after seven minutes when he dwelt on the ball from Kieron Freeman's fine pull-back and failed to get a shot off.
Boro heeded the warning and quickly took control of proceedings, with Gestede rounding off a period of concerted pressure to head home after Basham had failed to clear Patrick Bamford's clipped through-ball.
Middlesbrough: Randolph (8), Christie (7), Fry (6), Gibson (7), Friend (7), Clayton (7), Howson (8), Forshaw (7), Bamford (7), Assombalonga (7), Gestede (8)
Subs: Baker (7), Fletcher (7)
Sheffield United: Blackman (7), Stevens (6), Fleck (6), O'Connell (7), Basham (6), Clarke (6), Sharp (6), Coutts (7), Freeman (7), Stearman (6), Carruthers (7)
Subs: Duffy (7), Brooks (7)
Man of the match: Adam Clayton (Middlesbrough)
Chances were scarce after the break, substitute Baker shooting straight at Blackman when put through at the near post before United staged a rare attack and Paul Coutts brought a good save from Darren Randolph low to the 'keeper's left.
Gestede headed against the post from a Freeman cross for Boro, before O'Connell's stoppage-time header was ruled out after the linesman judged the Blades centre back had strayed offside.
Man of the match - Adam Clayton
Ran Middlesbrough's midfield tirelessly. Boro's game relied on finding space in the middle of the pitch and invariably it was Clayton who was opening it up, as well as being the first man in the oppositions' face when the ball was lost.
Garry Monk: "The first half was the benchmark for what we've been working on. I think the players could see that. The second half we knew it would become more difficult.
"Sheffield were always going to come back and have a good go at us. We have to respect them, they're a good team. But we dug it out as well. We showed a good side to it. All these building blocks, all these things we're trying to put together, you could see it throughout the game."
Chris Wilder: "We've had a fantastic run, we've come to the favourites for the division. The first half was touch, even though I thought we started the better of the two teams. We've missed a couple of chances and then they've grown into the game and got a goal.
"The second half I said let's show what we're about, show everyone why we think we're a decent side."
Middlesbrough play Burton Albion at home on Tuesday at 7.45pm, whilst Sheffield United face Cardiff City away the same night at 7.45pm.