Middlesbrough 1 Hull City 0: Gaston Ramirez ensures Boro get their due reward against Tigers

A Premier League weekend that began with the mother of all melees in Manchester ended with a Uruguayan settling a Yorkshire derby at the Riverside Stadium.

Middlesbroughs Gaston Ramirez nods home the only goal of the game as they beat Hull City in the Premier League at the Riverside Stadium (Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA).

Gaston Ramirez, a former Hull City loanee, struck on the hour mark to lift Middlesbrough four points clear of the top-flight relegation zone and condemn the Tigers to a fifth straight away defeat.

It was what Boro deserved from a measured display that brought down the curtain on a round of fixtures that began with Sergio Aguero fouling David Luiz – both fellow South Americans of Ramirez – to spark a mass brawl between Manchester City and Chelsea players.

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There was no such drama on Teesside last night in what at times amounted to an exercise in attack versus defence. Boro controlled the game from the outset, building on their recent impressive displays at Arsenal, Manchester City and Leicester.

Hull were toothless, and even a late salvo could not rescue what would have been a scarcely-deserved point.

Boro head coach Aitor Karanka said at the weekend that Boro were finally ready to cash in on Jordan Rhodes, a striker whose face has never quite fitted on Teesside, sparking what is expected to be an eight-figure scramble in January among clubs, including, reportedly, Hull.

How the Tigers could do with poacher extraordinaire Rhodes, who after a hatful of goals at Championship level has never been granted the chance to prove himself alongside the country’s elite.

Should he end up at Hull, manager Mike Phelan’s men would have to do a better job of supporting and supplying him.

Their 4-5-1 formation last night was unimaginative and unambitious. Playing for a draw at OId Trafford, Anfield or Stamford Bridge is understandable, but against a team that began the night one point and three places above them, it is not a tactic that bodes well for the battle ahead.

Adama Diomande was, for large periods, a lone figure up front, his inability to hold the ball up when it was hoofed forward contributing to a 61 per cent possession figure for Boro.

It took 83 minutes for Hull to muster a shot on target, before Diomande twice went close.

For their part, Boro never lost purpose or patience as they launched wave after wave of attack. As early as the sixth minute the pattern had been set.

Alvaro Negredo was presented with a glorious chance to open the scoring with the neat passing of Ramirez and Marten De Roon releasing the Spaniard, only for him to blaze over.

Hull’s defence was then static as Ramirez found space 20 yards from goal, his low shot palmed away by Andy Marshall, and Adam Forshaw took his turn to sting Marshall’s fingertips.

Boro were enjoying space down the right through the overlapping Antonio Barragan, and from one of his crosses Viktor Fischer saw his goalbound drive blocked by the despairing dive of Dawson.

Fischer then had a ‘goal’ disallowed for handball before forcing the ball home.

Negredo should have done better from Forshaw’s searching cross, but could only direct his header wide of goal.

The sense that Boro should have scored when on top in the first half was almost compounded when, out of nowhere, Hull’s Diomande was sent clear.

Marcus Henriksen’s long ball dissected two defenders and Diomande raced into the area, only to be thwarted by a wonderful saving tackle by Ben Gibson.

The second half brought more of the same until finally, on the hour mark, the pressure told.

Ramirez had been waspish on the fringes of the penalty area all night, but here he was, rising unmarked at the back post to head Fischer’s corner into the ground and up into the roof of the net like an old-fashioned centre-half.

Phelan sent on Tom Huddlestone and 19-year-old forward Jarrod Bowen for the booked Jake Livermore and ineffective Ryan Mason.

When Hull did create an opening from Robert Snodgrass’s left-wing corner, Sam Clucas could not get above the ball and headed well over.

Hull sparked into life with Michael Dawson’s header seven minutes from time and a long-range shot dragged wide of a post.

They could have snatched a point at the climax, Diomande drawing a smart save from Valdes from long range before agonisingly failing to connect with a near-post flick from Curtis Davies when the Boro goal was gaping.

Such urgency from Hull, though, had come far too late.

Middlesbrough: Valdes, Barragan, Chambers, Gibson, Fabio; Clayton, De Roon; Forshaw, Ramirez (Downing 87), Fischer (Stuani 81); Negredo. Unused substitutes: Guzan, Bernardo, Leadbitter, Nsue, Traore.

Hull City: Marshall, Elmohamady, Davies, Dawson, Robertson; Snodgrass, Livermore (Huddlestone 61), Clucas, Mason (Bowen 61), Henriksen (Meyler 81), Diomande. Unused substitutes: Jakupovic, Maguire, Huddlestone, Meyler, Weir, Tymon.

Referee: M Dean (Wirral).