New Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka admitted his Riverside dugout debut almost turned into a nightmare as Bolton won a last-gasp penalty.
But Jermaine Beckford missed his spot-kick, leaving Karanka to celebrate victory in his first home game in charge thanks to Grant Leadbitter slotting home a penalty after 82 minutes.
Former Real Madrid assistant manager Karanka was cheered onto the pitch with a Basque-style mass display of red hankerchief waving.
“It was very emotional for me, “ he said. “From the moment I signed the contract I had dreamed of the first home game and the greeting I got from our people made it very special.
“But it nearly turned into a nightmare when Bolton won the penalty so late on in the game.
“I feared it would be like at Leeds last week when we had worked so hard to get into a good position in the game and then conceded from a late mistake.
“But they missed and so I can go home happy and the supporters can go home happy. It was a good day.
“It was a tough game but I thought we did very well for long spells, although it is still very early days for me and for the players. We still need to improve.”
Bolton chief Dougie Freedman is backing his side to bounce back after their first defeat in nine games.
“It was hard for the boys because they worked very hard in that game and in the second half especially we had a lot of possession and created some good chances.
“Defensively, we were very good. We restricted them to very few chances and our ’keeper has barely had a save to make. It stings a bit to concede from a penalty and obviously it stings to miss one, too. I think we played well enough if not to win, certainly not to lose the game. Now it is about how the team react. I’m confident that they will react well.”
Middlesbrough: Given, Rh Williams, Woodgate, Gibson, Friend, Adomah, Leadbitter, Butterfield (Emnes 67), Smallwood (Whitehead 84), Carayol (Main 63), Kamara. Unused substitutes: Richardson, Ledesma, Konstantopoulos, Ayala.
Bolton Wanderers: Lonergan, McNaughton, Mills, Ream, Baptiste, Lee (Ngog 83), Medo (Mason 83), Pratley (Moritz 70), Spearing, Danns, Beckford. Unused substitutes: Eagles, Hall, Knight, Lee-Barrett.
Referee: M Brown (East Yorkshire).
Man of the match: Grant Leadbitter.