Middlesbrough’s consistency and Derby County’s failure to fulfil their potential were features of last season that may be repeated this time but Paul Clement’s side were at least able to deny Aitor Karanka a third consecutive win in matches between these teams.
The Spaniard’s team look as well-organised and disciplined as they were in reaching the Championship play-off final last season and led through Kike’s third goal in two matches.
But Derby had the character to keep testing Middlesbrough’s ability to defend a one-goal lead and were rewarded with an equaliser with two minutes to go when substitute Johnny Russell struck to earn Clement – like Karanka, a former Real Madrid assistant manager – a third consecutive draw.
Even before Russell’s goal, fired in from eight yards after a long ball into the box eluded Chris Martin, they had three times forced saves from goalkeeper Dimi Konstantopoulos, on which basis it was a point well deserved from a performance that gathered late momentum.
Derby’s pursuit of a first win of the season had begun brightly enough and Konstantopoulos had to move smartly to beat away an early Jeff Hendrick drive. But Middlesbrough soon began to impose themselves. Diego Fabbrini was a lively and influential presence in midfield, while attacking full-back George Friend added to the threat posed by Stewart Downing on the left.
Friend was involved as Karanka’s side took the lead after 16 minutes. His control was clever, his finish less so, but Derby failed to deal with his scuffed shot and the razor-sharp Kike nipped in to seize possession before flicking the ball from left to right beyond the reach of Scott Carson.
Derby’s cause was not helped by two enforced changes as Jamie Hanson and then Hendrick had to be replaced because of injuries. Konstantopoulos then made another good save to keep out a Tom Ince free-kick.
Derby looked more effective in the 4-2-3-1 system Clement put in place. They went close again when Martin was denied before Russell had the last word.
Derby County (4-3-3): Carson; Baird, Keogh, Shackell, Warnock; Hanson (Shotton, 39), Thorne, Hendrick (Russell, 43); Ince, Martin, Weimann (Bent, 72). Substitutes not used Grant (gk), Forsyth, Dawkins, Bent, Pearce.
Middlesbrough (4-1-4-1): Konstantopoulos; Kalas, Ayala, Gibson, Friend; Clayton; Adomah, Fabbrini (Reach, 74), Leadbitter, Downing (Forshaw, 89); Kike (Stuani, 77). Substitutes not used Meijas (gk), Stephens, Nsue, Nugent.
Referee S Martin (Staffordshire).Reuse content