George Friend was the only player who started the game at Villa Park on Saturday as Aitor Karanka used the game to get more minutes into other members of his squad.

After an even start it was Boro who almost opened the scoring with seven minutes played as Jordan Rhodes went for goal with the outside of his right boot from just outside the penalty area and brought a tremendous save from Orestis Karenzis in the Udinese goal.

The game was played at a reasonable pace, just below full match expectations, but there was no slacking from either side when work was needed to be done as it was increasingly at the first half unfolded.

Duvan Zapata caused all kinds of problems in the Boro box when attacking down the left, but as they had done all half Boro regrouped to clear and protect Tomas Mejias who had watched the game in front of him but wasn't that much involved.

The atmosphere was good with the Udinese fans in constant voice behind one goal, though the smattering of Boro fans who had made the journey to this impressive ground close to the Slovenian border made themselves heard.

Udinese's back line was forced on to the back foot when Gaston Ramirez and Cristhian Stuani pressed in the closing stages of the first half, but there hadn't been a clear chance since the effort from Rhodes early in the game.

The home side failed to have a shot on target in the opening 45 minutes but took just two of the second to force a save from a goalkeeper who at this stage was Brad Guzan making his debut in a Boro shirt. 

It took smart handling from the American international to deny Zapata who was allowed too much room when meeting a right-wing corner.

Guzan was one of two changes made by Karanka during the break, with Friend making way for Ben Gibson who also took the captain's armband. He slotted in to the centre of defence alongside Adam Jackson, impressive in pre-season, as Alex Baptiste shuffled across to left-back.

Another smart effort from Ghana international Emmanuel Badu had Guzan back in action as the home side stepped up the pace and darted into the Boro box.

Two more changes saw another reshuffle as Carlos De Pena and Emilio Nsue replaced Adam Reach and Adam Jackson with Nsue going on at right-back and Antonio Barragan moving from there to central defence.

Guzan proved his worth with another very smart stop on 68 minutes when Rodrigo De Paul went for goal from 25 yards and the goalkeeper had to move quickly to his right.

He was in action again a few minutes later, racing out of his area to clear, but not before Ramirez rattled the bar with an exquisitely-struck free-kick from 22 yards.

A triple change on 77 saw the introduction of Alvaro Negredo, David Nugent and Albert Adomah, as Rhodes, Ramirez and Stuani made way.

Stipe Perica, signed from Chelsea, brought another smart save from Guzan with a low shot to the near post as the home side spent plenty of time in the Boro half. 

Good defending from Nsue cleared the danger as Silvan Widmer whipped in a cross from the left before Adomah forced the referee into his only yellow card of the night.

Near constant pressure in a strong finish from Udinese couldn't send the majority of the fans, around 10,000 of them, home happy, but they still made plenty noise and contributed to an enjoyable contest from which both sides will take plenty.

Boro: Mejias (Guzan 46); Barragan, Baptiste, Jackson (Nsue 66), Friend (Capt. To 45) (Gibson 46 (Capt. From 46)), De Sart, Forshaw, Stuani (Adomah 77), Ramirez (Nugent 77), Reach (De Pena 66), Rhodes (Negredo 77). Subs: Clayton, Fischer, Downing.

Referee Giacomelli di Trieste

Booking Adomah, foul, 85.