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Summary

Rudy Gestede (left) goes tumbling the the Burnley area - no penalty though
Rudy Gestede (left) is sent tumbling in the Burnley area in the first half – no penalty though

Middlesbrough wasted a golden opportunity to boost their survival hopes as they were held to a goalless draw by Burnley at the Riverside Stadium.

Boro are six points shy of safety and it appears the writing is on the wall with their remaining seven fixtures including games against Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea.

It was at times a turgid spectacle played at a slow tempo, which was a surprise considering what was at stake for the Teesside club.

Their best chances came in the second half. First, substitute Alvaro Negredo produced a wonderful overhead kick that keeper Tom Heaton did well to push away. Burnley defender Matt Lowton then made successive goalline clearances in the closing minutes – first to deny Stewart Downing and then Daniel Ayala.

The Clarets – yet to win on their league travels this season – barely threatened the Boro goal, although they did hit the crossbar through Robbie Brady’s free-kick.

The point moves the visitors eight points clear of the Premier League drop zone.

All over for Middlesbrough?

Probably.

This was the match many thought would see Boro end their run of 14 league games without a win – but not until the last five minutes did that look a possibility.

Their former goalscoring hero Bernie Slaven feared the worst on BBC’s Football Focus earlier, when he suggested his old team had not shown urgency in recent months.

That urgency did rear its head, though only in the closing stages after coach Steve Agnew finally decided to twist by bringing on attackers Negredo and Adama Traore.

Soon after his introduction, Negredo almost became a “super sub” when his brilliant overhead kick was palmed away by the alert Heaton.

They were then twice denied by brilliant defending from Lowton. The 27-year-old defensive player valiantly cleared Downing’s goalbound free-kick before hacking Ayala’s header off the line.

With a tough run-in coming up, it looks like Boro’s days are numbered.

Lowton and Ward shine for the Clarets

Yes, Burnley have not won on the road in the league, but the display against Middlesbrough must have felt like a win.

They denied Boro space right from the kick-off and when they were tested in the final minutes Sean Dyche’s men were up to the task.

His general that deserves a medal is Lowton, who made two vital clearances. And at the other end, Stephen Ward was exceptional down the wing in a game where the Clarets attack underwhelmed.

They were perhaps lucky not to play the last nine minutes with 10 men after Michael Keane appeared to bring down Patrick Bamford, who would have been through on goal. Referee Martin Atkinson only showed a yellow card.

The Clarets have three more matches at home – where they have picked up most of their points this season. They could secure their safety with victory over Manchester United at Turf Moor on 23 April.

Man of the match – Matt Lowton

Matt Lowton
Just like a horse pipping a rival in the closing stages of the Grand National, Matt Lowton takes the honour from Stephen Ward with his two crucial clearances

‘We are disappointed not to have won’

Middlesbrough head coach Steve Agnew: “We had the chances came in the second half.

“Alvaro [Negredo] had the over-head kick and there was Stewy Downing’s free-kick that was going in but cleared off the line.

“I thought the lads were terrific in terms of their effort and commitment, and I thought we deserved to win the game.

“You have to give Stewy credit, he stood up and did everything he could’ve done. That’s the quality that he and the rest of the players have. It was a game that we’re disappointed to not have won.”

On the challenge on Bamford:

“It was a disappointing decision. The defender was on the wrong side. Patrick was in control of the ball and would have had a shot on goal.”

On their survival hopes:

“It leaves us six points short of where we need to be with a game in hand.”

Boro only English team without 2017 win – the stats

  • Middlesbrough have been involved in seven goalless draws in the Premier League this season, at least three more than any other side.
  • Indeed, the Riverside Stadium has seen fewer goals than any other Premier League ground this season (29 – 12 scored, 17 conceded).
  • Dyche’s side remain one of just two sides in the top four tiers of English football without an away league win this season (also Rotherham).
  • Boro are the only side in English league football without a win in 2017, last earning three points against Swansea on 17 December.
  • The past seven league meetings between these sides have produced just six goals in total.
  • Of the 10 previous occasions a team has scored 22 goals or fewer after 31 Premier League games, only two have avoided relegation (Crystal Palace in 2013-14 and Aston Villa in 2014-15 – both scored 20 goals).

What’s next?

Middlesbrough are at home to fifth-place Arsenal on Monday, 17 April (20:00 BST). Burnley are away at Everton next Saturday (15:00).

Home TeamMiddlesbroughAway TeamBurnley
Possession
Home57%
Away43%
Shots
Home13
Away7
Shots on Target
Home5
Away2
Corners
Home4
Away3
Fouls
Home9
Away12