Middlesbrough boss sure goals will come

Southampton's Oriol Romeu (left) and Middlesbrough's Adama Traore battle for the ball
Southampton's Oriol Romeu (left) and Middlesbrough's Adama Traore battle for the ball
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Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka bemoaned a lack of clinical finishing after watching his side go down 1-0 at Southampton.

Jordan Rhodes, Viktor Fischer and Cristhian Stuani all had first half chances, but in the end Boro drew another blank and suffered defeat on the South coast.

We played really well and finished the first half really confident.

Boro are the lowest scorers in the Premier League with 13 goals in 15 matches, but Karanka says the goals will come.

“The main thing to build a house is to build the foundations,” he said. “And that, since I arrived here, is to not concede goals. Creating the chances we have today, one day we will score.

“I’ll be concerned if we don’t create the chances in games but when we’ve created those chances and didn’t score, I know one day we will.

“But the main thing is to not concede as when we played Man City, yes we conceded one, but we had a chance to equalise in the last moment. Today, losing 1-0, we always had a chance to score.

“I thought that the key was the start of the second half. We played really well and finished the first half really confident on the pitch and I told them they had to keep going in the same way.

“But Southampton went to the pitch better than us, they scored. We had more chances to score in the first half but when we concede a goal this season, especially in the Premier League when we don’t have that experience, it’s difficult to equalise.

“But I’m pleased with the attitude of the players as when they run, fight, work in that intensity it’s just to keep going and add points and the experience we need.”

Alvaro Negredo sat out for Middlesbrough having picked up a hamstring strain against Hull on Monday.

For the visitors, it meant only a second start of the season for Jordan Rhodes, bought from Blackburn for £9million in the January transfer window but who has so far failed to convince Karanka of his talents. The 26-year-old endured another forgettable afternoon, doing little to suggest he is set for an extended run in the team.

Jordy Clasie and Jay Rodriguez each failed with snap-shots but by far the best opening of the half fell to Middlesbrough and it stemmed from a backpass, underhit by James Ward-Prowse.

Fischer raced through on goal but despite evading the lunging Virgil van Dijk and rounding goalkeeper Fraser Forster, the Dane’s angled shot was scrambled off the line by Fonte.

Stuani added to the momentary mayhem with two quickfire follow-ups but the first was blocked and the second blazed over the bar.

Claude Puel responded by replacing Dusan Tadic with Nathan Redmond at the interval and the substitute made an immediate impact, his cushioned header back setting up Sofiane Boufal for a shot which was blocked.

Boufal continued to look the most likely source of a goal and in the 53rd minute so it proved as the forward, 25 yards out, took one touch to receive the ball, another to tee himself up and a third to hammer it with his left foot past the rooted Victor Valdes.

Southampton: Forster, Martina, Fonte, van Dijk, McQueen, Clasie (Long 85), Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Tadic (Redmond 46), Rodriguez,

Boufal (Davis 73). Subs Not Used: Yoshida, Reed, Bertrand, Taylor. Booked: Tadic, Boufal, Fonte, Romeu. Goals: Boufal 53.

Middlesbrough: Valdes, Barragan, Chambers, Gibson, Da Silva, Forshaw, Clayton, de Roon, Stuani (Traore 81), Rhodes, Fischer. Subs Not Used: Bernardo, Leadbitter, Guzan, Downing, Nsue, Nugent. Booked: Barragan, Forshaw, Clayton.

Att: 28, 976 Ref: Stuart Attwell