Middlesbrough 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday: Hosts go top after hard fought win
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 28/12/15 8:18pm
Middlesbrough returned to the top of the Sky Bet Championship after a hard fought 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday at the Riverside.
Christian Stuani struck the only goal of the game after just 44 seconds to notch his sixth of the season - a goal which gave Boro their ninth home win of the campaign.
Their defensive display helped Aitor Karanka's side keep their seventh consecutive clean sheet in the league, and eighth at the Riverside Stadium.
The last goal they conceded at home was against Brentford on September 15, and they held strong against an in-form Sheffield Wednesday team who pegged Boro back for much of the second half.
Wednesday boss Carlos Carvalhal had complained about having to play just 48 hours after their comfortable Boxing Day victory over Birmingham and it was Boro who got off to a breathtaking start.
Albert Adomah played in Stewart Downing on the left and his delivery was met perfectly by Stuani, who side-footed past Joe Wildsmith.
And the rampant home side almost doubled their lead two minutes later when Stuani played in Emilio Nsue with a clever header, the former Mallorca midfielder cutting inside before his shot was deflected over the bar.
Stuani was in the thick of it again in the 15th minute after George Friend whipped in a dangerous ball from the left, but the Uruguayan's header was straight at Wildsmith.
Wednesday made two changes at half-time, with Daniel Pudil and Fernando Forestieri coming on for Sam Hutchinson and Jose Semedo.
And it seemed to do the trick early on as the Owls looked a lot stronger in the opening period of the second half, pressurising Boro for the first time in the game.
There was a big chance for the visitors when the ball dropped inside the box for Forestieri, but he was denied from close range and Boro scrambled it clear.
The league leaders then counter-attacked and substitute Diego Fabbrini should have done better with Downing in space on the left, but Jeremy Helan did well to get back and dispossess the Italian.
Wednesday pressed at the other end in the 74th minute when Forestieri's shot from the edge of the box was blocked and Rhoys Wiggins saw his rebound fly over the bar.
Boro were under pressure again in the 81st minute and Daniel Ayala did well to head off the line before Adam Clayton cleared the second ball.
The Owls continued to pressurise Boro, but the Teessiders held on to go two points clear at the top of the Championship with a game in hand.