A sole Gaston Ramirez header was enough to secure Middlesbrough a vital win over Hull City at the Riverside Stadium on Monday evening.
The Uruguayan midfielder converted Viktor Fischer’s corner just before the hour mark after pulling away from his marker at the far post and nodding home a free header from close range. It was the least that Middlesbrough deserved in a low-quality game in which they created the best goal scoring opportunities. Fischer had a goal ruled out for offside in the first half and striker Alvaro Negredo wasted two good chances whilst Hull rarely threatened until the closing stages.
The result means that Middlesbrough have now tasted defeat just once in their last six games and move up to thirteenth place in the Premier League table, four points clear of the relegation zone. Hull, meanwhile, are rooted in the bottom three and although Mike Phelan’s side are just one point from safety they have lost eight of their last ten league fixtures.
In truth, there was minimal quality on show at the Riverside Stadium on Monday evening and the contest between Middlesbrough and Hull came across as little more than two newly promoted teams desperately scrapping for points. However, it was entirely appropriate that Ramirez would grab the only goal of the game to settle the match as the Uruguayan provided the relatively few moments of genuine attacking quality.
Playing against his former club, Ramirez was a genuine and consistent threat for the home team throughout the fixture and his excursions from the right-side of midfield were the offensive highlights of the evening. Whilst the majority of players on show appeared to be exercising caution for the majority of the contest, it was Ramirez that demonstrated a true attacking purpose from his wide position. He provided Negrado with a clear-cut chance in the first half, only for the striker to miss the target, and also forced visiting goalkeeper David Marshall into a fine save with a long-range drive. Even after he had given Middlesbrough the lead on the hour-mark with his second goal of the season, it was still the former Southampton and Hull man that was creating opportunities to score in the closing moments.
In short, Ramirez provided Middlesbrough with the quality to grab a hard-fought and fully-deserved victory.