Ramirez boost for Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough lost for the first time in pre-season but it was a good night for Aitor Karanka in Marbella.
The head coach saw his side lose 2-1 to Real Betis but there was a first sight of new defender Antonio Barragan and a late cameo for Gaston Ramirez.
Barragan, who joined Boro from Valencia, was the first half Boro XI, while Ramirez played the final 10 minutes, even though the deal to make last season’s loan signing a permanent one has not yet been completed.
Karanka said the move for the 25-year-old should be completed on Wednesday.
“It’s good to have him because he was a key player last season and at the end of the season when we went on our holidays both of us knew we wanted to play together again,” he told the club website.
“It has taken time but finally Gaston is here, it’s good for the team, good for the club and good for him so we are all really pleased.”
Boro were put under pressure by a Betis side, who are managed by ex-Sunderland boss Gus Poyet.
Dimi Konstantopoulos made a good save from Cejudo but the La Liga side led on 26 minutes when Dani finished from a narrow angle.
Boro went agonising close to an equaliser four minutes later when David Nugent’s shot hit the post and the second half XI thought they had equalised only for Viktor Fischer to be caught offside.
However, it was Real Betis who struck next, Ruben doubling the Spanish lead from 12 yards.
Boro pulled a goal back immediately when Jordan Rhodes headed in Cristhian Stuani’s right-wing cross.
Ramirez was thrown on in the dying stages after permission was given just before kick-off to allow him to take part ahead of a three-year dea wih Boro.
There was a half-chance for him two minutes from time when Emilio Nsue broke into the area to find the Uruguayan, who was crowded out.
Hartlepool’s England youth skipper Bryn Morris played the first half at Marbella Stadium, with last season’s Pools loan defender, Adam Jackson playing the second 45 and caught the eye.
Boro first half: Konstantopoulos; Barragan, McGinley, Morris, Gibson, De Roon, Reach, Clayton, Nugent, Downing, De Pena.
Boro second half: Mejias; Nsue, Baptiste, Jackson, Friend, Stuani, Reach (Ramirez 80), Forshaw, Fischer, De Sart, Rhodes.