Aitor Karanka was satisfied with Carlos de Pena’s introduction to English football, but insists there is still a lot more to come from the Middlesbrough midfielder.
De Pena moved to Teesside in a £1.6million move from Uruguayan side Nacional on transfer deadline day and made his first appearance in his side’s 3-0 Capital One Cup win over Wolves.
The midfielder was involved in both of Middlesbrough’s first two goals, delivering the cross that enabled Albert Adomah to break the deadlock and dummying in the box to enable Diego Fabbrini to fire home shortly after the interval.
Adomah added his second after 64 minutes.
Karanka was happy with de Pena’s first taste of the English game but expects his performances to improve once he gets used to a new style of football.
The Boro head coach said: “I told him after the game that he now knows why it is not easy. He showed his quality, but he needs time.
“Whether it is in the league or the cup, football in this country is always difficult.
“I trust him a lot, and his team-mates trust him, but we need to keep calm with him because he will be an important player. He is a very good kid and he wants to improve. He can do much better, but I am really pleased with him.”
De Pena was one of seven changes from the side that won at Nottingham Forest last weekend and Karanka admits he will find it difficult to select a side for Sunday’s home game with Leeds.
He said: “We changed a lot of players from Saturday’s game and they wanted to impress. I told the players at half-time that I wanted to have a headache ahead of Sunday picking the starting XI.
“They were making it easy for me in the first half, but the second half was different. We were much better in the second half and now I have that headache in terms of picking the team to play Leeds.”
It took until the 26th minute before either side exerted any real pressure.
Grant Leadbitter whipped in a dangerous corner from the left-hand side, and with Boro throwing plenty of players into the box, Wolves full-back Matt Doherty almost hooked the ball into his own net.
Adomah narrowly failed to connect with Kike’s floated cross from the left-hand side, but when he was presented with a better opportunity eight minutes before the break the winger successfully broke the deadlock.
De Pena’s cross caused confusion in the Wolves defence, Ethan Ebanks-Landell panicked and made a hash of his attempted clearance, and Adomah gleefully swept home the loose ball from inside the penalty box.
The Teessiders went close to doubling their lead when Kike’s shot was blocked on the edge of the area shortly after the interval, but they did not have to wait too much longer to claim a two-goal advantage.
Adomah crossed from the right-hand side, De Pena produced an excellent dummy that threw the Wolves defence, and Fabbrini swept home a crisp finish from close to the penalty spot.
Boro stretched even further clear in the 64th minute.
George Friend’s cross from the left-hand side found Adomah in plenty of space at the back post and the winger drilled a precise finish into the corner.
Middlesbrough: Mejias, Amorebieta, Kalas, Friend (Stephens 74), Adomah, Nsue, Leadbitter (Clayton 67), De Pena (Reach 79), Forshaw, Fabbrini, Kike. Subs Not Used: Agazzi, Gibson, Downing, Nugent. Booked: Friend. Goals: Adomah 37, Fabbrini 57, Adomah 64.
Wolverhampton: Ikeme, Doherty, Deslandes, Ebanks-Landell, Iorfa, McDonald, Saville (Henry 81), Price, van La Parra (Le Fondre 60), Wallace, Enobakhare (Afobe 60). Subs Not Used: Golbourne, Rowe, Ojo, Martinez.
Att: 13,368 Ref: Kevin Wright (Cambridgeshire).