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domingo, 16 de outubro de 2016
Middlesbrough 0-1 Watford: Jose Holebas stunner settles dour clash - 5 things we learned
The Greek full-back hammered in a brilliant second-half winner to push the hosts into a relegation battle
Aitor Karanka's side are slipping into a season long relegation fight after their third consecutive home defeat.
Jose Holebas was Watford's match winner blasting home from 25 yards after robbing Cristian Stuani.
The Greek rifled in a perfect shot that was the only highlight of a dour scrap, which will worry the Boro boss.
It was a valuable win for the Hornets on their travels and cements them in mid-table.
But the concern for Boro was palpable after another loss in front of their own fans.
What did we learn though? Simon Bird was there....
1. Boro need to up their game to avoid a relegation fight
After an early win against Sunderland this season has taken a turn for the worse.
The next five games look perilous, including trips to Arsenal, Man City and Leicester, and Bournemouth and Chelsea visiting.
Points will be hard to come by and come December they could find themselves under pressure and deeper into the relegation zone.
Where are their goals coming from? Big name signing Alvaro Negredo has one all season.
2. Aitor Karanka has gone back to basics
Three defeats in four games before this match, had given Boro a scare and proved this season will be a struggle.
Karanka spoke pre-match about getting back to their best form... which he said in the Championship last season meant clean sheets.
He never sets his side up with adventure, and they held firm, had decent possession, without hammering through their home advantage.
But on sloppy mistake from Cristian Stuani, and a brilliant finish from Jose Holebas wrecked the plan.
3. Antonio Barragan and Cristian Stuani could have been sent off
The Boro full back had already been booked for a foul on Isaac Success.
The Watford winger was giving Barragan problems and he was fouled again as he pressed for a break through.
Referee Roger East let the second bookable foul go, and spared the Spaniard a red card in the first half.
Stuani was booked in the first half and kicked Success in the chest conceding a foul, but luckily not a yellow, after the break.
4. Holebas the unlikely hero
There was precious little quality on show, but wing back Holebas produced the magic moment.
Watford had not had a shot on target and mustered only 117 passes in the first half.
But they were ahead after 54 minutes. The Greek stole the ball from Stuani, after a poor clearance, and skipper forward to smash into the top corner.
5. Clean sheet at last for Watford
Walter Mazzarri's side had not managed a defensive shut out all season. That's nine games conceding. Include last season and the run was 12 without a clean sheet.
His formula of three centre backs pack in tightly, and two wing back who offer plenty of cover when out of possession, worked well against toothless Boro.