Middlesbrough lose first game back in the Championship to Ruben Neves inspired Wolves
The dawn of a new season advanced the same old problems for Middlesbrough who were beaten 1-0 at Wolverhampton Wanderers on their return to the Championship. Middlesbrough rarely win on the opening weekend of a season. Their record now stands at two victories from the last 15 attempts - yet with Garry Monk in situ in the dugout and the arrival of a new £30 million forward line on the pitch there was perhaps optimism that they might at least trouble the scoreboard in this encounter. Boro’s weighty outlay has been accompanied by considerable expectation. Installed as favourites for promotion, here, against a Wolves team that has also invested heavily, they were undone by an inexplicable defensive error from Daniel Ayala in the 33rd minute that allowed Leo Bonatini, the simple job of rolling the ball past Darren Randolph. The Brazilian forward, on loan from Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal, and one of 11 new players operating under the new regime of Nuno Espirito Santo, executed his task to perfection. The Portugal international Ruben Neves, a £15m recruit from Porto, had earlier scuffed Wolves first real opportunity from 18-yards out. Neves, who was readying himself for Champions League football this time last year was otherwise excellent though and on this showing may prove a shrewd acquisition. Ruben Neves was a controverted summer purchase His passing and prompting put Wanderers on the front foot during the first period and he used the ball economically in the closing stages, with the visitors pressing for an equaliser. In some ways this was reminiscent of Middlesbrough’s travails from last term which yielded just 27 goals and led to their demotion from the Premier League. The contest was close enough and they merited at least a point but departed with nothing to show for their exertions. Martin Braithwaite should have restored parity in the 43rd minute. Left unmarked six yards from goal he guided his header wastefully wide, following a marauding run and cross from Cyrus Christie. On his first outing for Boro, Britt Assombalonga’s power and pace was redundant for long periods. However, when he finally burst clear of the home defence in the 72nd minute the sprawling presence of John Ruddy ensured that he did not open his account for the campaign. While Garry Monk conceded his disappointment over missed opportunities, he offered a sanguine vision of the future. “We’ve not even scratched the surface with them [the forwards], it is a process, they do need time,” he said. “You could see in the second half just how dangerous we could be as a team without being at our very best, so you would expect these type of players to grow and get better. They will get better and better and that’s what we trust in. First half they were the better team. We made too many mistakes, very simple mistakes with the ball, which were quite uncharacteristic and obviously one of them led to a goal which was unfortunate. “In the second half I felt we were the better team. We created chances and we had the best chances in the game. We definitely should have had a goal or two out of those. We definitely deserved something from the game. We had a couple of one on ones, that we should have taken, we had a free header at the end of the first half that we should have taken and on any other day I’m sure we would. “In terms of the result it’s disappointing but in terms of what we deserved out of the game it’s not a true reflection. That’s football on any other given day you take those chances,” he added. While it is still far too early to make any clear judgement on Wolves, this represented an early hurdle successfully negotiated, by a club seeking to make a metamorphosis into promotion candidates. “It is about us, building an idea, building a team, a strong squad. So that no matter who we face we will always be Wolves,” said the manager, Nuno Espirito Santo. “I told you last week we were ready. But we are still not the final project. This is the line we want from the boys, always progress. I think we are all learning, every day is a chance to learn. We are pleased with the boys, the boys worked well today. Tomorrow is another day.” Farke masterminds late opening point for Norwich Daniel Farke proved his managerial credentials by masterminding a late opening point for Norwich City with a double substitution, but still received criticism from scorer Nelson Oliveira. The former Borussia Dortmund reserves coach sent on Oliveira and Wes Hoolahan in an ultimately successful attempt to rescue a draw. Yet Oliveira extraordinarily ripped his shirt off and ran in the direction of Farke, pointing to his name, after converting from Hoolahan’s through ball. The Portuguese striker was clearly not happy playing second fiddle to Cameron Jerome and new signing Marley Watkins but German Farke, a left-field choice himself to replace Alex Neil this summer, forgave the reaction. “Nelson is from Portugal and very emotional,” he said. “It was really kind of him to show me the shirt. What he did was normal because all the players should want to play for 90 minutes.” Oliveira’s 88th-minute goal, which came with a suspicion of offside, cancelled out Russell Martin’s 25th-minute own goal when he defected the ball into the net following trickery from Floyd Ayite. Fulham head coach Slavisa Jokanovic was unhappy with the equaliser. He said: “I am frustrated as I could not complain about offside. Now it’s about looking forward.” £250,000 up for grabs: pick your Telegraph Fantasy Football team today >> 4:54PM FULL TIME And that's it around the grounds! 4:51PM GOAL! Bristol City 3 - 1 Barnsley Barnsley have pulled one back but that's sure to be a consolation. Ryan Hedges grabs one in the third minute of injury time but it's far too little way too late. 4:49PM GOOOOOAAAAALLL! It's 1-1 at Fulham! Nelson Oliveira levels the score. Hoolahan creates, chips over the top to Oliveira and he finishes low underneath the goalkeeper in the 88th minute. Fulham fail to keep a clean sheet once more. 4:43PM GOOOAAAAALL! Burton 0 - 1 (Zohore 87') Cardiff Every single game has a goal now as Cardiff take the lead away to Burton. It's a lovely finish, with Kenneth Zohore curling the ball on his left foot around the keeper and into the back of the net from distance. 4:41PM No joy for Harry yet 77 - Sears misses a sitter inside the six-yard box, gets a soft touch on a square Spence pass from the right of the area 1-0 #BCFC— Birmingham City FC (@BCFC) August 5, 2017 4:40PM GOAL! Preston 1 - 0 Sheffield Wednesday Controversy here as the referee gives a penalty to Preston and replays seem to show that it shouldn't have been. Daniel Johnson converts it. 4:37PM Still no goals in two games It's a boring Saturday afternoon at the football for Burton, Cardiff, PNE and Wednesday fans. Nobody has found the back of the net and there are only about 10 minutes left. 4:30PM Sessegnon off 68' #FFC Sub: Odoi is on in place of Ryan Sessegnon. A standing ovation for Sess after his performance. #COYW— Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) August 5, 2017 4:27PM Ruben Neves is having a decent game You'd expect it for the Championship's most expensive ever player but Neves is dictating play and pinging Hollywood passes around Molineux. 4:19PM RED CARD! Thiago Llori has been sent off for denying a goal scoring opportunity and Washington has had to wait a while to take his penalty. Here he comes... GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAL! QPR 2 - 0 Reading 4:13PM GOOOAAALL! Ipswich 1 (Garner 50') - 0 Birmingham Back post, side foot, 1-0 - BOSH! It's Joe Garner, the guy who wasn't very good at all for Rangers last season, and Ipswich put one past Harry Redknapp's Birmingham. 4:11PM Some updates for you 48' Freekick to Norwich just outside the box. Maddison stands over it. Danger.— Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) August 5, 2017 Great save from @RandzOfficial! Bright Enobakhare poked a shot goalwards but the #Boro keeper clawed it away! 1-0.— Middlesbrough FC (@Boro) August 5, 2017 4:04PM KICK-OFF 2 They're back kicking balls around various parks in England. 3:53PM HALF TIME It's time for a little rest. 3:51PM Neymar showing off in Paris World record signing already showing his worth, punting balls into the crowd with his wrong foot �� pic.twitter.com/3wB95z8zdz— COPA90 (@COPA90) August 5, 2017 It's not Championship football related but... it's Neymar. 3:49PM SHEFFIELD UNITED HAVE SCORED! Sheffield United 1 (Sharp 39') - 0 Brentford It's their first goal back in the Championship and the fans are fairly chuffed: Sheffield United's first goal back in the Championship and the fans are losing it! ��: @TJ1889pic.twitter.com/FBHpAfZYm2— COPA90 (@COPA90) August 5, 2017 3:47PM Action shot from the Bristol game Credit: ACTION PLUS 3:46PM Middlesbrough should be level Garry Monk's £9million signing Martin Braithwaite has just missed an absolute sitter, heading wide of an open goal with absolutely nobody near him. It happens to the best of us. But most of us don't cost £9million! Monk isn't delighted with the outcome of that particular passage of play. 3:42PM GOOOOAAAALLLLL! And it's 1-0 to Wolves! Leo Bonatini gives the busy Molineux Stadium crowd something to cheer as he gives the Tigers an opening goal. 3:40PM Fulham doing updates for me It remains 1-0 to #FFC#COYWpic.twitter.com/MH9Ul6Ca4T— Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) August 5, 2017 3:39PM Another photo from Wolverhampton Credit: GETTY IMAGES 3:33PM GOAL! Bristol City 3 - 0 Barnsley It's a hiding for Barnsley at the moment. Bristol City are scoring at will, Clive. It's Bobby Reid again! He's not even really meant to be a striker but has a second goal at Ashton Gate. Barnsley's half time teamtalk is likely to be aggressive, "Show me something else in the second half". 3:27PM GOOOAAALL! Fulham 1 - 0 Norwich Russell Martin scores an own goal in the 25th minute but there's not much he can really do about it. Fulham take the lead. 3:26PM GOOOAAAALLL! Bristol City 2 - 0 Barnsley It's two for Bristol City as a winger gets in behind the Barnsley defence and sends a cross over to the back post for record signing Famara Diedhiou to head in. 3:24PM GOOOAAAALLL! QPR 1 - 0 Reading QPR 1 (Washington 22') - 0 Reading Reading have been under pressure all game, Luke Freeman puts the ball into the box from wide and Conor Washington gets to it first, powering a header past the goalkeeper. 3:19PM GOOOAAAAALLL! Bristol City 1 - 0 Barnsley The first Championship goal of Saturday has been scored! It's Bobby Reid who puts the home side ahead after 16 minutes. 3:18PM What a lovely photo this is Credit: GETTY IMAGES 3:12PM Birmingham's long throws are doing the job Birmingham go close twice in succession from throw-ins hurled into the area and should probably 1-0 up but a header doesn't trouble the goalkeeper and the score is still 0-0. 3:06PM No goals yet There's a big crowd at Wolves to see their new look team but Middlesbrough have started as the better team. Harry Redknapp is bringing sexy 4-4-2 back at Birmingham. Good for him. 3:02PM KICK-OFF EVERYWHERE! Soccer is back! 2:57PM The Wolves programme is really nice This is the best-smelling programme I've smelled in a while. Joyously intoxicating. Fair play to @Wolves. pic.twitter.com/y83nDw5X18— Daniel Gray (@d_gray_writer) August 5, 2017 2:53PM Alex Neil gets his Preston North End career started today The official team sheet for this afternoon. ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/zWJF2WvDRC— Preston North End FC (@pnefc) August 5, 2017 Maxwell, Fisher, Huntington, Spurr, Cunningham, Pearson, Browne, Johnson, Barkhuizen, Robinson and Maguire. And I'd say the first thing he needs to do is sort out the club's social media offerings. Look at Sheffield Wednesday's starting lineup tweet: TEAM NEWS: Here's our line-up for today's clash with @pnefc#swfcLIVEpic.twitter.com/0oQlJ0hKmd— Sheffield Wednesday (@swfc) August 5, 2017 Better. 2:50PM Birmingham's starting lineup 2️⃣5️⃣ minutes to go! Here's your Blues team to open the 17/18 Sky Bet Championship season. #BCFCpic.twitter.com/LpnH3BSIyj— Birmingham City FC (@BCFC) August 5, 2017 AND IPSWICH! KAPPOW! TEAM NEWS | Town v Birmingham Iorfa and Garner make their #itfc debuts as Mick names his first starting line-up of the new campaign ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/88u056BDui— Ipswich Town FC (@Official_ITFC) August 5, 2017 10 minutes to go until kick-off everywhere. Can you feel the excitement in your bones? 2:39PM QPR and Reading teams �� The #QPR team is in! Visit the #QPRvREA matchday centre for more: https://t.co/1tR9Pi4NvCpic.twitter.com/u3C8xpr8UI— QPR FC (@QPRFC) August 5, 2017 TEAM NEWS: Our first matchday squad of the season! This is how we line up today at Loftus Road... pic.twitter.com/2bxXhV7KXx— Reading FC (@ReadingFC) August 5, 2017 2:11PM Wolves vs Middlesbrough Ruben Neves starts for Wolves! Here's how Wolves line-up for this afternoon's @SkyBetChamp clash against @Boro. #WOLvMID ���� pic.twitter.com/bmUkXLTzoJ— Wolves (@Wolves) August 5, 2017 Here's your #Boro line-up, brought to you by @Coral. #UTBpic.twitter.com/DRJBrrP4lq— Middlesbrough FC (@Boro) August 5, 2017 2:01PM Fulham vs Norwich team news There's going to be a lot of this and it might get slightly confusing but here are the Fulham and Norwich starting lineups for today: City XI vs Fulham: Gunn; Martin (c), Zimmermann, Franke; Wildschut, Reed, Husband; Vrancic, Maddison; Watkins; Jerome. #ncfc— Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) August 5, 2017 Here is your #FFC team to face @NorwichCityFC today at the Cottage on opening day! #COYWpic.twitter.com/7VTZuZlrex— Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) August 5, 2017 12:51PM Football is back! Did you miss it?! It's here! Finally, the opening day of the (lower league and Scottish) season. Celtic have just kicked-off against Hearts and there are eight Championship games to come at 3pm. Sunderland started their season with a disappointing draw against Derby last night, while Nottingham Forest beat Millwall and sit top of the table. Is this their year? Perhaps not. It's - as always - an incredibly competitive league down in the English first division. Wolves have spent a LOT of money signing Football Manager wonderkids like Ruben Neves from Porto, Middlesbrough have thrown £30million and a Garry Monk into their promotion hopes and Birmingham have Harry Redknapp. He thinks he can get them into the Premier League, which is nice. There is simply no escaping that John Terry looks weird in an Aston Villa shirt Credit: GETTY IMAGES And then you've got the aforementioned Sunderland, Sheffield Wednesday went close last season, Fulham and Norwich both fancy their chances and of course, a John Terry inspired Aston Villa. Who will go on an early season surge up the table? There's always one. You can follow the scores here in our clockwatch as we enjoy the return of soccerball on this most glorious of Saturdays.