KARANKA’S Boro have taken 16 out of the last 18 points available as the Teessiders march up the table to the dizzy heights of ninth.
Boro 1 Charlton Athletic 0
Emmanuel Ledesma’s thunderbolt after 17 minutes settled the tie in the home side’s favour. Boro had countless attempts to double their advantage after Charlton last Rhoys Wiggins to a straight red.
Mustapha Carayol and Curtis Main replaced Albert Adomah and Lukas Jutkiewicz in the Boro starting line-up from the 2-0 win at Blackpool. Kei Kamara and Jonathan Woodgate were fit enough to take their places on the bench.
Chris Powell gave Yohann Thuram-Ulien his debut after joining on loan from Standard Liege as part of Charlton’s link up with the Belgian club.
Boro could have been 1-0 up early on. Main’s through-ball to Carayol ricochet off Richard Wood and sat up kindly for a shot, but it went inches wide.
The home side kept present Charlton with opportunities having lost possession in their own half. Both Jann Kermogant and Jordan Cousins had efforts after Boro mistakes, however neither tested Shay Given.
Ledesma netted for Boro out of nothing, with a shot from 35-yards. The Argentine picked the ball up on the right touchline, cut inside and unleashed – Thuram-Ulien was helpless in the Charlton net with a wicked bobble just in front of him.
The Teessiders could have doubled their advantage after Carayol was twice denied by Thuram-Ulien. The Charlton stopper saved well with his feet from an initial long-range thunderbolt before keeping hold of the follow-up.
Ledesma tried to repeat his heroics of earlier with a shot from downtown, however on loan Thuram-Ulien watched it go well wide.
Half time: Boro 1 Charlton Athletic 0 – The home side are good value for their lead, however Charlton have had a lot of possession in the final third, but have looked very laboured.
Wood should have levelled things up for Charlton. He was given plenty of space in the box by the Boro backline, but his shot went inches wide.
Brilliant footwork on the left from Carayol give him room for a dig on goal. The Gambian’s goal-bound effort was well held well by Thuram-Ulien at his back post.
The visitors thought they had drawn level through Simon Church. Kermogant hooked the ball back into play, the substitute bundled it over but clattered Given in the process.
Wiggins was dismissed for a clumsy, off-balance tackle on Boro sub Richard Smallwood. The Boro midfielder was lucky to come away without an injury.
Ledesma had a goal saved off the line from a very rapid counter attack. Jutkiewicz and Kei Kamara both had bites at the cherry to put the game beyond doubt.
Given pulled off a wonder save right on the final whistle to ensure that Boro wrapped up the three points. The Republic of Ireland international hurled himself in front of a sweetly struck volley from point blank range from Dale Stephens.
Middlesbrough travel to Leicester next weekend for a top of the form table clash at The King Power Stadium. Charlton switch their focus to the FA Cup midweek where they take on Oxford United in a replay.
www.tside.co.uk man of the match: Shay Given – was very rarely called upon but the wonder save at the death was simply world class.
Middlesbrough (4-2-3-1): Given, Varga, Williams, Friend, Leadbitter (c), Whitehead, Emnes (Jutkiewicz 57′), Ledesma, Carayol (Kamara 88′), Main (Smallwood 79′)
Unused subs: Konstantopoulos, Gibson, Woodgate, Butterfield, Kamara
Goals: Ledesma (17′)
Charlton Athletic (4-5-1): Thuram, Jackson (c) (Green 67′), Morrison, Stephens, Harriot, Wood, Wiggins, Cook (Church 67′), Kermogant, Wilson, Cousins (Ajdarevic 77′)
Unused subs: Phillips, Hughes, Evina, Dervite
Sent off: Wiggins (serious foul play)
Attendance: 14,548 (258 visitors)