Reaction: Middlesbrough 0 Blues 1

I hope this game today is a reflection of the future.

Aitor Karanka

Aitor Karanka is hoping to use the victory at Middlesbrough as a springboard for Blues’ season.

The Head Coach was speaking after he left his former club with three points following a classic away performance.

Leading through Scott Hogan’s first-half effort, Blues always seemed in control and sucked the attacking life out of Boro to pick up their first win of 2021.

And Karanka told the media how he wants to use today’s success as the prototype for future matches.  

He explained: “I hope this game today is a reflection of the future and being on TV it is even better for us.

“In the first-half we played really well. We created chances when we had the ball and when we had to defend against a strong team we were committed and defended really well.”

Blues deservedly led through Hogan’s 26th-minute goal, with Karanka understandably delighted with the Irishman’s contribution - someone who he feels is one of the division’s best.

He said: “The more you work with Scott Hogan, the more you know how good he is. You give him the confidence and I trust him 100%. He is a top player in this league.”  

Having taken the lead, it was then a case of game management for Blues and Karanka was wholly satisfied with how his team and substitutions dealt with Boro’s response.

He told the press: “I knew they were really good with long balls and second balls and they have very good players in the middle. I decided to defend, with bigger players on the pitch to defend the long balls and set pieces.”

Although pleased with the win, the 47-year-old was keen not to dwell on matters in the North East and outlined what is expected when Blues welcome Preston North End this Wednesday.

He said: “When we are confident, we can play and create chances because we have quality players. We just have to be more confident, forget the past, the negative atmosphere and now we have a game against Preston at St. Andrew's.

“We now need a performance like this at St. Andrew's and we showed today we can do it. This group of players deserves to be higher in the table.”