Liver­pool next up for Ai­tor’s high-fly­ers

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Steph Clark

AI­TOR KARANKA has warned his play­ers not to get com­pla­cent after a con­vinc­ing win over Brent­ford pro­pelled his Mid­dles­brough side into the top six.

Grant Lead­bit­ter got the scor­ing un­der­way in the 35th minute with a su­perb long-range strike, be­fore Al­bert Adomah, Pa­trick Bam­ford and Kike added goals in the sec­ond half.

The Teessiders are now fifth in the ta­ble and three points off the top after an im­pres­sive three wins in eight days.

Karanka’s side face last sea­son’s Premier League run­ners-up Liver­pool in the Cap­i­tal One Cup on Tues­day night.

But the head coach has urged his play­ers to keep their feet on the ground after a fruit­ful week.

“We sent the fans home happy and that’s the most im­por­tant thing,” Karanka said.

“That’s three straight wins and we have to keep go­ing. There’s another game on Tues­day and then Satur­day (Charl­ton). We’re al­ways look­ing ahead.

“We can’t think we’re bet­ter than we are. If we do, then we’ll have prob­lems.

“I made a few changes to make sure the play­ers don’t get too com­pla­cent. We had some good play­ers wait­ing to come in.

“It’s about play­ing with a good squad. All the play­ers are ready to come in.

“Tues­day at Liver­pool is a chance to keep the feel-good fac­tor go­ing.

“We go to Liver­pool think­ing we can play well and play like we’ve done in the last few games.

“Of course they’re a Cham­pi­ons League team, but we’ll go there to fight as much as we can and it’s im­por­tant our fans can en­joy go­ing there.”

Brent­ford suf­fered their sec­ond heavy de­feat of the week after los­ing 3-0 to Nor­wich on Tues­day and Bees boss Mark War­bur­ton ad­mit­ted his side per­formed well be­low par.

“The bet­ter team won,” War­bur­ton said. “We’ve set good stan­dards this sea­son but we’ve fallen be­low them.

“It wasn’t ac­cept­able, es­pe­cially after the break when we weren’t good enough. It’s not about let­ting me down, it’s about us as a team.

“We gave the ball away cheaply and that was the key.We didn’t re­ally test their keeper and they broke the dead­lock with a won­der­ful strike.

“We didn’t lack work-rate but we lacked qual­ity on the ball, giv­ing it away in key ar­eas.

“We got into some good po­si­tions, but we didn’t hurt Mid­dles­brough and it was too easy for them.We have to learn.

“We’ve got a good-qual­ity squad and we’ve shown that, but if you fall be­low those lev­els you’ll lose as it showed to­day.

“It wasn’t good enough and the play­ers know that. They need to be a bit nas­tier.”

Mid­dles­brough had been on the front foot right up to Lead­bit­ter’s opener ten min­utes be­fore the break, with Bam­ford and Adomah go­ing close in the early stages.

The mid­fielder col­lected the ball some 35 yards out and sent a rasp­ing drive soar­ing past David But­ton.

There was lit­tle sense of a re­ply from the Bees and the lively Adomah made it 2-0 five min­utes after the break when he latched on to Emilio Nsue’s cross after Jelle Vossen had sup­plied a great ball to the winger.

The goals con­tin­ued to come for Karanka’s men when Bam­ford’s glanc­ing header went in from Lead­bit­ter’s cross.

Mid­dles­brough’s af­ter­noon was soured slightly when they were re­duced to ten men. Dean White­head was the player sent off in the 83rd minute for a bad foul.

There was still time for the Teessiders to score a fourth.

Span­ish striker Kike came on and scored his fourth of the sea­son with a minute left.


ROLL OUT THE BOR­OUGH: Grant Lead­bit­ter cel­e­brates scor­ing the open­ing goal

TAK­ING THE KIKE: Mid­dles­brough’s sub­sti­tute rounds off the scor­ing for ram­pant Boro

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