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Holebas cracker gives Watford all three points on Teesside as Southampton ease past Burnley

Middlesbrough will enter a tough run of fixtures on the back of a damaging 1-0 home defeat to the Hornets.

A THUNDEROUS JOSE Holebas strike was enough for Watford to win 1-0 at the Riverside Stadium on Sunday as Middlesbrough’s return to the Premier League continues to falter on home soil.

The Teesside club have picked up a single point from 12 available on their own patch so far this season, having lost just twice in front of their home fans in winning promotion last term.

Holebas’ exceptional strike was in stark contrast to the rest of the contest, a dull affair in which neither side managed to gain a foothold in attack.

Isaac Success replaced compatriot Odion Ighalo up front for Watford and was a constant menace, with Boro right-back Antonio Barragan somehow escaping a red card for a string of fouls on the visitors’ club-record signing.

Karanka will now be feeling the heat, with Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea and Leicester City among Boro’s next five fixtures, while Watford are into the top half on the back of their second away win of the campaign.

Middlesbrough v Watford - Premier League - Riverside Stadium Source: Owen Humphreys

Boro had the majority of the play in a dreary first 45 minutes, but Heurelho Gomes went untested in the Watford goal.

Indeed, the half was most notable for the hosts’ right-back Barragan avoiding a dismissal when he tugged Success to the ground, having been cautioned for an earlier foul on the Nigerian.

Though the opening period had passed without much incident, the second half was lit up by a moment of outstanding quality from Holebas.

Success again raided down Boro’s right flank, and hit the deck under Adam Forshaw’s challenge in the area. As the visitors protested to referee Roger East, Holebas reacted quickly to rob Cristhian Stuani 30 yards out and lash a swerving shot into the top-left corner past a helpless Victor Valdes.

Success had Barragan on toast again soon after, the Spaniard clumsily felling his man, but East once again failed to dismiss the ex-Valencia player.

Middlesbrough v Watford - Premier League - Riverside Stadium Source: Owen Humphreys

However, Karanka finally saw sense and withdrew the right-back, while also introducing Adama Traore in a bid to spark his listless attack.

East ensured he would end the game with both sets of fans denouncing his abilities when Calum Chambers was bundled over when approaching the penalty area, with nothing given.

And the Riverside’s crowds frustration was clear as Jordan Rhodes’ 89th-minute introduction was sarcastically cheered before the final whistle was met with boos to complete a day of deep disappointment for 17th-placed Boro.

Meanwhile, Charlie Austin once again proved a thorn in the side of former club Burnley as he scored twice in Southampton’s classy 3-1 Premier League victory.

The England striker had scored on both his previous two top-flight appearances against the Clarets and he extended that record to four in three.

Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton was in inspired form in the first half, including a stunning early save from Austin, but the wheels came off for the visitors after half-time.

Austin started the scoring with a scrappy opener from a corner, before Nathan Redmond’s fine finish from another set-piece doubled the lead just after the hour.

Southampton benefitted from a somewhat harsh penalty decision for Austin to make it three from the spot, but a run of six straight clean sheets was brought to a hasty end from Sam Vokes’ spot-kick after Dusan Tadic was judged to have pulled Ben Mee’s shirt.

Nevertheless, Saints move up to eighth after a comfortable outing made it 10 points from their last four league games, while Burnley remain 14th and just a point above the drop zone.

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