Former Liverpool defender Daniel Ayala's goal helped earn Middlesbrough victory as Birmingham's Championship campaign started with defeat.

The Spanish defender, 23, put Boro ahead after nodding home Grant Leadbitter's first-half corner.

Demarai Gray went closest for Birmingham, the 18-year-old clipping a 30-yard free-kick narrowly over.

But Boro's Enrique Garcia sealed the points from 10 yards after Lee Tomlin's deflected shot fell into his path.

This was a solid start for Middlesbrough's Spanish boss Aitor Karanka.

Singing the Blues

Birmingham are without a win in seven Championship games, six of which have ended in defeat.

The 40-year-old, appointed last November, has strengthened his side since seeing them finish last season with six wins from the final eight league games.

Nine of Birmingham's 11 league wins last season had come on the road but they found no joy on Teesside once Ayala had out-jumped the visitors defence in the 33rd minute to open the scoring.

Within one minute of kick-off, England Under-21 international defender Ben Gibson came off because of injury, but this failed to disrupt Boro.

They continued to press forward and almost doubled their advantage when Albert Adomah fired straight at the onrushing keeper Darren Randolph just after half-time.

Randolph came to his side's rescue again, parrying George Friend's header wide before Garcia - nicknamed 'Kike' - doubled the lead in the 67th minute.

Middlesbrough v Birmingham

Birmingham City have not won an opening day fixture since overcoming Sheffield United on 9 August 2008

The former Spain Under-20 international showed great technique, slotting a controlled volley into the corner after Tomlin's initial effort had been blocked.

The Spaniard later missed a golden opportunity to add another following a well worked set-piece with Tomlin.

Positives were in short supply for Birmingham. They did go close through Gray's 17th-minute set-piece.

But Blues boss Lee Clark, who saw his side escape relegation to League One on the final day of last season, looks as though he has his work cut out.

Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka:

"It was very good; a very good result and performance. You never know in the first game of the season.

"We started in the same way as we finished last season, with confidence."

Birmingham manager Lee Clark:

"What has been frustrating is we were quite negative. We did not look confident and I do not understand it because we have had a great pre-season.

"The stat of no shots on target tells its own story. It's a little reality check but it's not the end of the world. I have total belief in the players and we can bounce back."

Birmingham fans at Middlesbrough

Birmingham fans saw their team win nine times away from home last season

Middlesbrough fans celebrate against Birmingham

Middlesbrough fans had not seen their side win an opening day fixture since beating Tottenham 2-1 in 2008

Birmingham manager Lee Clark

Birmingham manager Lee Clark saw his side lose 24 times in the Championship last season

Lineup, Bookings (2) & Substitutions (5)

Middlesbrough

  • 40 Mejias Osorio
  • 15 Hines
  • 03 Friend
  • 07 Leadbitter
  • 06 Gibson (Omeruo - 4' )
  • 04 Ayala Booked
  • 27 Adomah (Nsue Lopez - 67' )
  • 18 Whitehead
  • 09 Garcia Martinez
  • 10 Tomlin (Williams - 87' )
  • 20 Reach

Substitutes

  • 13 Konstantopoulos
  • 14 Williams
  • 17 Husband
  • 22 Omeruo
  • 24 Nsue Lopez
  • 30 Fewster
  • 33 Smallwood

Birmingham City

  • 01 Randolph
  • 02 Eardley Booked
  • 04 Robinson
  • 06 Edgar
  • 15 Hall
  • 03 Grounds
  • 22 Shinnie (Duffy - 55' )
  • 08 Gleeson
  • 12 Novak
  • 10 Thomas (Donaldson - 67' )
  • 33 Gray

Substitutes

  • 05 Gunning
  • 07 Duffy
  • 09 Donaldson
  • 11 Cotterill
  • 21 Doyle
  • 29 Brown
  • 31 Caddis
Ref: Graham Salisbury
Att: 18,371

Match Stats

Shots

20 4

On target

8 0

Corners

11 2

Fouls

9 13

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Middlesbrough 2, Birmingham City 0.

90:00 +3:02 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Middlesbrough 2, Birmingham City 0.

90:00 +2:27

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Jonathan Grounds.

90:00 +1:56

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Darren Randolph.

90:00 +1:46

Attempt saved. Luke Williams (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Emilio Nsue.

90:00 +0:49

Attempt blocked. Emilio Nsue (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Grant Leadbitter.

86:57 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Middlesbrough. Luke Williams replaces Lee Tomlin.

84:48

Dangerous play by Lee Novak (Birmingham City).

84:48

Daniel Ayala (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

81:59

Foul by Demarai Gray (Birmingham City).

81:59

Dean Whitehead (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

81:01

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

80:05

Delay in match Sebastian Hines (Middlesbrough) because of an injury.

79:24

Foul by David Edgar (Birmingham City).

79:24

George Friend (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

78:36

Paul Robinson (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

78:36

Foul by Lee Tomlin (Middlesbrough).

77:58

Attempt saved. Emilio Nsue (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

74:57

Foul by Sebastian Hines (Middlesbrough).

74:57

Demarai Gray (Birmingham City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

74:27

Attempt missed. Kike (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Grant Leadbitter with a cross following a corner.

73:59

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Neal Eardley.

72:50

Mark Duffy (Birmingham City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

72:50

Foul by Emilio Nsue (Middlesbrough).

72:10

Attempt saved. Kike (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Lee Tomlin.

70:58

Lee Tomlin (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

70:58

Foul by Paul Robinson (Birmingham City).

66:35 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Birmingham City. Clayton Donaldson replaces Wes Thomas.

66:13 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Middlesbrough. Emilio Nsue replaces Albert Adomah.

65:07 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Middlesbrough 2, Birmingham City 0. Kike (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner.

65:04

Attempt blocked. Kike (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Adam Reach with a cross.

64:06

Offside, Middlesbrough. Adam Reach tries a through ball, but Adam Reach is caught offside.

64:01

Attempt blocked. Lee Tomlin (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

62:37

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Darren Randolph.

62:30

Attempt saved. Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Kike.

61:53

Corner, Birmingham City. Conceded by Dean Whitehead.

61:17 Booking

Booking Daniel Ayala (Middlesbrough) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

60:48

Mark Duffy (Birmingham City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

60:48

Foul by Daniel Ayala (Middlesbrough).

59:17

Grant Hall (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

59:17

Foul by Kike (Middlesbrough).

57:08

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Darren Randolph.

56:30

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Paul Robinson.

55:51

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Neal Eardley.

55:21

Foul by Jonathan Grounds (Birmingham City).

55:21

Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

54:38 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Birmingham City. Mark Duffy replaces Andrew Shinnie.

54:15 Booking

Booking Neal Eardley (Birmingham City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

53:44

Foul by Neal Eardley (Birmingham City).

53:44

Adam Reach (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

52:08

Attempt missed. Wes Thomas (Birmingham City) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Paul Robinson.

49:31

Foul by Grant Hall (Birmingham City).

49:31

Kike (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

49:18

Andrew Shinnie (Birmingham City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

49:18

Foul by Kike (Middlesbrough).

48:58

Attempt blocked. Kike (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Albert Adomah.

48:58

Attempt saved. Daniel Ayala (Middlesbrough) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Grant Leadbitter with a cross.

48:58

Attempt saved. Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Kike.

45:32

Wes Thomas (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

45:32

Foul by Daniel Ayala (Middlesbrough).

45:00

Second Half begins Middlesbrough 1, Birmingham City 0.

45:00 +3:24 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Middlesbrough 1, Birmingham City 0.

45:00 +2:30

Offside, Middlesbrough. Daniel Ayala tries a through ball, but Kike is caught offside.

45:00 +0:31

Foul by Andrew Shinnie (Birmingham City).

45:00 +0:31

Dean Whitehead (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

43:41

Offside, Birmingham City. Stephen Gleeson tries a through ball, but Demarai Gray is caught offside.

43:02

Attempt missed. Stephen Gleeson (Birmingham City) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Wes Thomas.

42:07

Attempt missed. George Friend (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Adam Reach.

40:53

Offside, Middlesbrough. Lee Tomlin tries a through ball, but Kike is caught offside.

40:02

Attempt missed. George Friend (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Dean Whitehead.

39:17

Adam Reach (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

39:17

Foul by Demarai Gray (Birmingham City).

37:26

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

36:29

Delay in match Paul Robinson (Birmingham City) because of an injury.

35:37

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Paul Robinson.

32:49 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Middlesbrough 1, Birmingham City 0. Daniel Ayala (Middlesbrough) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Grant Leadbitter with a cross following a corner.

32:24

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Jonathan Grounds.

30:25

Foul by Grant Hall (Birmingham City).

30:25

Grant Leadbitter (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

30:10

Attempt missed. Lee Novak (Birmingham City) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Demarai Gray with a cross following a corner.

29:51

Corner, Birmingham City. Conceded by George Friend.

28:47

Attempt missed. Lee Tomlin (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

23:50

Offside, Middlesbrough. Kenneth Omeruo tries a through ball, but Albert Adomah is caught offside.

20:30

Attempt missed. Kike (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from the left side of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Lee Tomlin.

19:52

Attempt blocked. Lee Tomlin (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

19:35

Attempt blocked. Lee Tomlin (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

18:51

Foul by Andrew Shinnie (Birmingham City).

18:51

George Friend (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick on the left wing.

17:54

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Jonathan Grounds.

16:44

Foul by Stephen Gleeson (Birmingham City).

16:44

Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick on the right wing.

15:49

Attempt missed. Demarai Gray (Birmingham City) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right from a direct free kick.

15:04

Demarai Gray (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

15:04

Foul by Dean Whitehead (Middlesbrough).

11:28

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Wes Thomas.

9:23

Foul by Neal Eardley (Birmingham City).

9:23

Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick on the right wing.

7:50

Attempt missed. Lee Tomlin (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by George Friend.

4:38

Demarai Gray (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

4:38

Foul by George Friend (Middlesbrough).

3:23 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Middlesbrough. Kenneth Omeruo replaces Ben Gibson because of an injury.

2:09

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

0:47

Delay in match Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough) because of an injury.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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