Middlesbrough 2-0 Birmingham City
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.
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."
- 6GibsonSubstituted forOmeruoat 4'minutes
- 4AyalaBooked at 62mins
- 27AdomahSubstituted forNsueat 67'minutes
- 10TomlinSubstituted forWilliamsat 87'minutes
- 2EardleyBooked at 55mins
- 22ShinnieSubstituted forDuffyat 55'minutes
- 10ThomasSubstituted forDonaldsonat 67'minutes
- Graham Salisbury
- Shots on Target