Belfast Telegraph

Middlesbrough are adapting to life in the Premier League says Aitor Karanka

Aitor Karanka believes his Middlesbrough side are becoming better equipped for Premier League survival after moving four points clear of the relegation zone with a 1-0 win over Hull.

Gaston Ramirez headed the only goal of the game in the 60th minute and Karanka says the increasing experience gained by his squad will prove crucial in their bid to extend their stay in the top-flight.

Boro dominated against Mike Phelan's ailing Tigers with Alvaro Negredo missing a pair of good chances before Ramirez stooped to nod home Viktor Fischer's corner from the left.

Karanka said: "We are gettiing the experience and maturity with the points because I could tell how they felt on the pitch and how important the points were for us.

"It's massive because they are a direct opponent and apart from the score we showed we are better than them."

The toothless Tigers seldom threatened until their sole available striker Adama Diomande missed two great chances to grab a scarcely deserved equaliser in injury time.

The small section of visiting fans saw Sam Clucas denied an early shot on goal by a fine interception from Marten de Roon, then the hosts took control.

Negredo fired over and Adam Forshaw and the excellent Ramirez brought saves out of David Marshall before Negredo again should have done better from a Forshaw cross.

After Ramirez made the breakthrough Negredo could have added a second before the late drama when Diomande's speculative long-range effort was palmed behind by Victor Valdes.

From the resulting corner by Snodgrass, Ahmed Elmohamady flicked on and the stretching Diomande was inches from connecting for what looked a certain goal.

Hull are now in serious trouble and their problems are mounting with the news that Abel Hernandez is likely to face three more weeks out due to hernia surgery.

Tigers boss Phelan said: "I don't think it will kill the sense of belief because we know exactly what the purpose of this season is - we knew it was going to be difficult and we knew that wouldn't change by winning here today.

"But it certainly makes it more difficult looking at the programme we've got coming up, and the rest of December and January are going to be very hard."

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