Middlesbrough 1 Birmingham City 0: Michael Carrick comes out on top in clash of ex-Manchester United teammates

Wayne Rooney endured a losing start to his first match in charge of Birmingham City as Morgan Rogers’ last-gasp strike snatched a 1-0 victory for Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.

The 21-year-old Rogers had only been on the pitch 13 minutes when he fired home in the 89th minute to earn Middlesbrough a fifth straight Championship win.

The result moves Michael Carrick’s side just one point behind his former team-mate Rooney’s seventh-placed City, who lost for a fourth game in a row on the road.

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It looked like the ex-Manchester United and England pair would have to settle for a point on Rooney’s debut in the Birmingham hot seat, but substitute Rogers had other ideas.

Middlesbrough stuck late to win. Image: Will Matthews/PA WireMiddlesbrough stuck late to win. Image: Will Matthews/PA Wire
Middlesbrough stuck late to win. Image: Will Matthews/PA Wire

Middlesbrough had their chances, particularly in the first half, but had not found a way past John Ruddy in the Birmingham goal.

Rooney was greeted with a mixed reception on his return to an English touchline, with Boro’s fans quick to direct a derogatory chant his way while the Blues’ contingent chanted his name.

And he was a relieved man in the opening couple of minutes when Dion Sanderson’s misplaced back pass went out for a corner that came to nothing.

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Sanderson was also involved in unsuccessful penalty shouts from the home side. The defender, who had a spell on loan at Sunderland, brought down Matt Crooks after his touch went out of play but referee Rebecca Welch turned down appeals.

While Middlesbrough, who went close through Josh Coburn on occasions, did most of the attacking, Birmingham were first to seriously test the goalkeeper.

Seny Dieng was quick to dive to his left to prevent Krystian Bielik’s low first-time effort from finding the bottom corner after some clever wing play from Siriki Dembele.

After that Coburn headed Dan Barlaser’s free-kick over at the other end and Isaiah Jones had a goal ruled out for offside after he had been put through by the homegrown striker.

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There was a second strong penalty shout waved away when Bielik appeared to bring down Jones, whose speed got him to the ball first when both players went for a 50-50.

The best chance of the half fell to Coburn just after half an hour. Hayden Hackney and Sam Greenwood combined before Coburn was played in but his scuffed shot bounced wide when he should have found the target.

Somehow it remained goalless despite Middlesbrough’s first-half domination, even though Birmingham goalkeeper Ruddy was lucky not to concede after being caught on walkabout out of his box. He was booked for fouling Jones instead.

Soon after half-time Ruddy made two fine saves. First, he flew to his right to turn behind an effort from Hackney and then he reacted to hold Paddy McNair’s goalbound touch following a corner.

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Middlesbrough, who also had a rasping volley from McNair saved by Ruddy, continued to have more of the game but it looked like they would have to settle for a point until Rogers found the breakthrough with his first league goal for the club.

He arrived with a minute left to clip Crooks’ low return pass inside Ruddy’s near post to deflate Birmingham hopes.