Middlesbrough 2-1 Swansea City: Watmore’s brace gives Warnock victory

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Neil Warnock was all smiles after Middlesbrough held only second win in six league games

Neil Warnock celebrated his birthday late as Middlesbrough beat Swansea City to close the gap in the Championship play-offs.

Warnock, the oldest EFL manager, turned 72 on the eve of Swansea’s visit to the Riverside.

The man with a record eight promotions in English football on his CV celebrated yet another triumph as Duncan Watmore’s brace gave Middlesbrough the victory.

It was only the third loss of the season for Swansea, who could have climbed into the automatic promotion spots with a win but lacked his best in possession.

It was Middlesbrough night as Watmore, who Warnock signed to a short-term deal last month, scored with a deflected effort before doubling his tally at the break.

Warnock was forced to undergo a nervous finish after Swansea substitute Yan Dhanda struck out a goal with another deflected shot, but the home side held on.

It was a meeting of two teams with impressive defensive records, but it was a competition that produced chances.

Swansea threatened first, with Jamal Lowe’s shot saved by Marcus Bettinelli before Connor Roberts’ follow-up was well blocked by Marcus Tavernier.

But it was the home team that made their first effort of the night, as Watmore cut to the left and saw his 20-yard drive take a nasty deflection on Marc Guehi and sail past the wrong foot Freddie. Woodman.

It was a sweet moment for former Sunderland player Watmore, who was only making a third appearance since his time at Teesside.

Swansea’s calls for a penalty were ignored after Andre Ayew fell under challenge from Marvin Johnson.

If they were feeling tough that way, the visitors were lucky just before the break when Watmore picked Sam Morsy and his close range efforts were secured by Woodman.

Swansea head coach Steve Cooper responded by making three substitutes at halftime, sacrificing a defender in the quest for a comeback.

Duncan Watmore scored his first goals since finding Sunderland’s target against Tranmere in October 2019

An equalizer nearly came seconds after the restart, with Viktor Gyokeres – one of those who had just played – seeing a deflected shot at an empty net after Bettinelli inflated a clearance.

Woodman then parried Johnson’s 25-yard yardage and the resulting corner fell to Morsy, whose shot was brilliantly blocked under the bar by Guehi.

Swansea then saw a period of pressure before Middlesbrough doubled their lead on the counterattack.

The visitors were badly exposed after Gyokeres gave the ball on the cheap, with Paddy McNair feeding Watmore to walk around the box unchallenged before shooting low into the net.

Swansea was not finished and was given hope when Dhanda pulled away from a challenge on the edge of the box and scored a first goal of the season as his shot deflected high into the net.

Dhanda was a busy presence in Swansea’s push to equalize, but the Middlesbrough rearguard dug deep for a victory that puts Warnock’s men just two points off the top six.

Line-up

Middlesbrough

  • 1Bettinelli
  • 17McNair
  • 6Fry
  • 27She was
  • 29Spence
  • septTavernier
  • 5MorsyReplaced byFamilyat 79 ‘minutes
  • 16Howson
  • 3JohnsonBooked at 45 minutesReplaced byCoulsonat 79 ‘minutes
  • 18WatmoreReplaced bySavilleat 68 ‘minutes
  • dixAkpomBooked at 57 minutes

Substitutes

  • 8Family
  • 9Haunted
  • 15Wood
  • 19Roberts
  • 22Saville
  • 24Folarin
  • 32Stojanovic
  • 33Coulson
  • 37Jones

Swansea

  • 1Woodman
  • 44CabangoReplaced byRoutledgeat 45 ‘minutes
  • 2Bennett
  • 5Guehi
  • 23Roberts
  • 6FultonBooked at 45 minutesReplaced byRootedat 45 ‘minutes
  • septBlack-smithReplaced byGarrickat 81 ‘minutes
  • 3Manning
  • 45PalmerReplaced byDhandaat 66 ‘minutes
  • dixA Ayew
  • 9LoweReplaced byGrimesat 45 ‘minutesBooked at 85 minutes

Substitutes

  • 8Grimes
  • 13Chose
  • 14Rooted
  • 15Routledge
  • 20Cullen
  • 21Dhanda
  • 24Bidwell
  • 26Naughton
  • 41Garrick

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