New Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka was delighted with a clean sheet as goals from Emmanuel Ledesma and Albert Adomah ended Millwall’s seven-game unbeaten home run in the league.
Since his appointment, Middlesbrough had won once, drawn once and lost three but Saturday’s win lifts them two points above fellow strugglers Millwall.
Boro boss Karanka said: “It was very, very important for us because we are losing points in the last minute.
“Not conceding late was important for the squad. It’s important for our defenders and for the keeper to keep a clean sheet.
“(Ledesma) played very well. He’s the kind of player who deserves to play. He arrived at his opportunity and he took it.
“Boxing Day is my first one here. It’s important for the people to come to the stadium to support us.
“The team is starting to take shape. I’ve said since the first day I’m very happy with this team. I can see them improve but we just need to win the points.
“I think this team deserves to win with a support that is always with us.”
Four minutes after the restart Ledesma broke down the right, cut inside Paul Robinson and Nadjim Abdou and fired home.
The Argentinian was booked for his celebration after dedicating the goal to Stuart Parnaby, whose partner lost their child four weeks before it was due. Adomah wrapped up the points in the final minute, rounding Forde and tapping into an empty net.
On the incident that saw Ledesma booked, he added: “It was horrible for us. We wanted to win the last game against Brighton for Stuart but could not make it possible. But our minds are on Stuart and for his family.”
Millwall fans turned on boss Steve Lomas after the game. “I understand fans want to win games of football and we have been on a pretty good run at home.”
Millwall: Forde, Dunne, Robinson, Beevers, Malone, Feeney, Abdou (Keogh 73), Trotter, Woolford, Morison, McDonald (Easter 62). Unused substitutes: Shittu,Lowry,Moussi,Smith,Bywater.
Middlesbrough: Given, Varga, Ayala, Gibson, Friend, Whitehead, Smallwood, Adomah, Emnes (Butterfield 74), Carayol (Ledesma 32), Main (Jutkiewicz 84). Unused substitutes: Konstantopoulos, Luke Williams, Hines, Haroun.
Referee: J Linington (Isle of Wight).
Man of the match: Emmanuel Ledesma.