Four key takeaways and two players players deserve significant praises from victory over Birmingham City…

After securing a 1-0 victory over Birmingham City, two Middlesbrough players deserve significant praise. The win demonstrated Middlesbrough’s continued excellence following the international break, with minimal signs of rust after a two-week hiatus.

Despite some missed opportunities, Middlesbrough maintained nearly complete control throughout the game. John Ruddy, in the visitors’ goal, delivered an exceptional performance. However, it was Morgan Rogers, coming off the bench, who scored the crucial late goal for Middlesbrough, albeit during a somewhat chaotic offensive sequence.

This victory against a strong Birmingham side, who started the game in sixth place, provides several reasons for optimism. Here are four key takeaways from the match.

  1. Dan Barlaser’s Impressive Performance: Dan Barlaser, given the chance to replace Jonny Howson, who had been absent due to illness in the previous two games, had an important role to play. Barlaser had struggled to secure a regular spot in the Boro lineup since his January transfer. However, his performance on Saturday suggested a potential change in his fortunes. Facing a Birmingham side with a preference for overloading the central areas, Barlaser, alongside Hayden Hackney, excelled in maintaining control of the midfield. His passing ability shone through, making a strong case for him as a regular starter in the team.
  2. Lukas Engel’s Encouraging Display: Lukas Engel, who had faced questions about his defensive vulnerabilities, maintained his place in the team against Birmingham. While he had shown promise with his ball skills before the international break, his defensive performance was more convincing in this match. He coped well with the speedy Cody Drameh, displaying increased confidence and an improved ability to recover and regain possession.
  3. Adherence to Michael Carrick’s Request: After losing several key goal-scorers in the summer, manager Michael Carrick urged the team to collectively take on the responsibility of scoring goals. This season, Boro has followed that directive, with Morgan Rogers becoming their 11th unique Championship goalscorer. In their last ten league goals, scored by eight different players, the goal-sharing trend is evident. While it’s positive to have multiple sources of goals, the team still hopes to see a primary forward emerge as the main goal-scorer.
  4. Impactful Substitutes, Especially Latte Lath: Substitutes have been making significant contributions in recent matches. Emmanuel Latte Lath, who lost his starting position to Josh Coburn, has responded with two goals and a dynamic presence on the field. In the Birmingham victory, he once again played a crucial role in creating opportunities. His pace and initiative caused problems for the opposition, ultimately contributing to the winning goal.

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