Middlesbrough go top with scrappy Burnley victory

Middlesbrough's Emilio Nsue celebrates after he scores his side's goal
Middlesbrough's Emilio Nsue celebrates after he scores his side's goal

Middlesbrough moved top of the Sky Bet Championship following a scrappy 1-0 victory over Burnley at the Riverside Stadium.

Emilio Nsue’s second-half strike was enough for Aitor Karanka’s side to bag a crucial three points against the play-off chasing Clarets.

Nsue tapped home his second goal of the season - his first at the Riverside - with one of the few chances Boro managed to get on target all night.

But it was enough for the Teessiders to claim their eighth home win of the season and top the league following Brighton’s slip-up at QPR.

Boro started the game brightly and Diego Fabbrini won a foul in a good position on the left side of the box within nine minutes. But Burnley cleared the danger and Adam Clayton’s follow-up effort was well wide.

The home side produced a flowing move in the 22nd minute when Nsue found space down the right. He laid off for Adam Forshaw - in for skipper Grant Leadbitter - who did well to find Stewart Downing but Kike could not get on the end of his cross.

Clayton hit an ambitious long-range effort which flew well wide of Tom Heaton’s left-hand post a few minutes later.

But the visitors created their first chance of the game at the other end just before the half-hour mark, and Daniel Ayala did well to block a David Jones shot from the edge of the box.

Dimi Konstantopoulos had to be on his toes in the 37th minute when Burnley broke again and George Boyd got a powerful shot away which the Boro keeper steered round the post.

The opening goal came out of nowhere nine minutes into the second half.

After some neat build-up play, Downing found Forshaw inside the box and the midfielder did well before pulling back to Nsue who side-footed first time past Heaton with Boro’s first shot on target.

Burnley pushed for a quick leveller and might have found it when Marney played in Scott Arfield but his shot was saved by Konstantopoulos.

Boro then surged forward in the 62nd minute as the game started to open up and Downing hit a powerful shot which Heaton tipped over the bar.

The home side continued to look for a second and in the 68th minute they went close again when George Friend received a return ball from Forshaw but his first-time volley was easy for Heaton.

Substitute Christian Stuani almost made it two for Boro with three minutes to go when the Uruguayan forward rounded Heaton, but he could not get his angled shot on target.

And Albert Adomah should have wrapped it up in the dying seconds of injury-time but Heaton did well to block his effort.