Championship
MiddlesbroughMiddlesbrough2SwanseaSwansea City1

Middlesbrough 2-1 Swansea City: Watmore double gives Warnock win

By Gareth VincentBBC Sport Wales
Neil Warnock was all smiles after Middlesbrough held on for only a second win in six Championship matches
Neil Warnock was all smiles after Middlesbrough held on for only a second win in six Championship matches

Neil Warnock enjoyed a belated birthday celebration as Middlesbrough beat Swansea City to close the gap on the Championship play-off places.

Warnock, the EFL's oldest 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 toasted yet another triumph as Duncan Watmore's double gave Middlesbrough victory.

It was only a third defeat of the season for Swansea, who would have gone top of the table with a win but instead drop to seventh having been short of their best in possession.

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

Warnock was forced to endure a nervy finish after Swansea substitute Yan Dhanda pulled a goal back with another deflected shot but the home side held on.

This was a meeting of two teams with impressive defensive records, yet it was a contest which produced chances.

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

But it was the home side who went ahead with their first effort of the night, as Watmore cut in from the left and saw his 20-yard drive take a wicked deflection off Marc Guehi and sailing beyond the wrongfooted Freddie Woodman.

It was a sweet moment for former Sunderland player Watmore, who was making only a third appearance since switching to Teesside.

Swansea's appeals for a penalty were ignored after Andre Ayew tumbled under Marvin Johnson's challenge.

If they felt hard done by there, the visitors were fortunate just before the break when Watmore picked out Sam Morsy and his close-range effort was pawed to safety by Woodman.

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

Duncan Watmore scored his first goals since finding the target for Sunderland against Tranmere in October 2019
Duncan Watmore scored his first goals since finding the target for Sunderland against Tranmere in October 2019

An equaliser almost came within seconds of the restart, with Viktor Gyokeres - one of those who had just come on - seeing a shot deflect over an empty net after Bettinelli had fluffed a clearance.

Woodman then parried Johnson's 25-yarder and the resulting corner dropped to Morsy, whose shot was brilliantly blocked under the bar by Guehi.

Swansea then enjoyed a spell of pressure before Middlesbrough doubled their lead on the counter-attack.

The visitors were left badly exposed after Gyokeres gave the ball away cheaply, with Paddy McNair feeding Watmore to stroll into the box unchallenged before firing low into the net.

Swansea were not finished, and gave themselves hope when Dhanda stepped away from a challenge on the edge of the box and claimed a first goal of the season as his shot deflected high into the net.

Dhanda was a busy presence in Swansea's push for an equaliser, but Middlesbrough's rearguard dug deep to deliver a victory which puts Warnock's men just two points outside the top six.

Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock:

"A good performance tonight - I really enjoyed it. We are playing one of the best teams I think, but I thought in every department we played well tonight.

"We could have scored a few more and then we made it a bit nerve-wracking at the end but I really felt we deserved it. I've said to them, they are a good team but so are we.

"I am pleased for Duncan. He has had an horrendous time. He has come here without being paid for a few weeks. You don't always get your reward but tonight he did.

"It's the best result of the season by an absolute mile because we are playing a good side on the back of a bad result. It's probably my best result since I've been here."

Swansea head coach Steve Cooper:

"We didn't play anywhere near our expected standards, we gave away two really poor goals. To do those two things doesn't give you much hope of winning a football match.

"Although we got back into the game and had a little flurry late on, the damage was done and it was self-inflicted unfortunately.

"I don't know if we should have a penalty. That's not what I'm going to focus on. I will focus on what we are in control of and that's playing better in the next game.

"Any of what we want to do well in games we didn't do, both in and out of possession. It's a disappointing night.

"The players don't need me to shout and scream at them. I can tell that they know there's a missed opportunity there."

Line-ups

Middlesbrough

Formation 3-5-2

  • 1Bettinelli
  • 17McNair
  • 6Fry
  • 27Bola
  • 29Spence
  • 7Tavernier
  • 5MorsySubstituted forWingat 79'minutes
  • 16Howson
  • 3JohnsonBooked at 45minsSubstituted forCoulsonat 79'minutes
  • 18WatmoreSubstituted forSavilleat 68'minutes
  • 10AkpomBooked at 57mins

Substitutes

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

Swansea

Formation 3-4-1-2

  • 1Woodman
  • 44CabangoSubstituted forRoutledgeat 45'minutes
  • 2Bennett
  • 5Guehi
  • 23Roberts
  • 6FultonBooked at 45minsSubstituted forGyökeresat 45'minutes
  • 7SmithSubstituted forGarrickat 81'minutes
  • 3Manning
  • 45PalmerSubstituted forDhandaat 66'minutes
  • 10A Ayew
  • 9LoweSubstituted forGrimesat 45'minutesBooked at 85mins

Substitutes

  • 8Grimes
  • 13Benda
  • 14Gyökeres
  • 15Routledge
  • 20Cullen
  • 21Dhanda
  • 24Bidwell
  • 26Naughton
  • 41Garrick
Referee:
Keith Stroud

Match Stats

Home TeamMiddlesbroughAway TeamSwansea
Possession
Home37%
Away63%
Shots
Home13
Away10
Shots on Target
Home5
Away3
Corners
Home6
Away8
Fouls
Home15
Away17

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Middlesbrough 2, Swansea City 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Middlesbrough 2, Swansea City 1.

  3. Post update

    Corner, Swansea City. Conceded by Marcus Tavernier.

  4. Post update

    Corner, Swansea City. Conceded by George Saville.

  5. Post update

    Corner, Swansea City. Conceded by Marcus Tavernier.

  6. Post update

    Corner, Swansea City. Conceded by Dael Fry.

  7. Post update

    Connor Roberts (Swansea City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Hayden Coulson (Middlesbrough).

  9. Post update

    Offside, Swansea City. Yan Dhanda tries a through ball, but Jordan Garrick is caught offside.

  10. Post update

    Yan Dhanda (Swansea City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Lewis Wing (Middlesbrough).

  12. Booking

    Matt Grimes (Swansea City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Matt Grimes (Swansea City).

  14. Post update

    George Saville (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Marc Guehi (Swansea City).

  16. Post update

    Marcus Bettinelli (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  17. Post update

    Corner, Swansea City. Conceded by Jonny Howson.

  18. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Yan Dhanda (Swansea City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

  19. Post update

    Jordan Garrick (Swansea City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Hayden Coulson (Middlesbrough).

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Norwich158431914528
2Bournemouth157622516927
3Watford157621911827
4Reading158342419527
5Bristol City158341915427
6Brentford157532213926
7Swansea157531710726
8Stoke157442218425
9Blackburn1573529171224
10Middlesbrough156631610624
11Luton156451418-422
12Cardiff155552013720
13Millwall154831312120
14Barnsley155461717019
15Preston156182023-319
16Huddersfield155371822-418
17QPR154561722-517
18Birmingham153751114-316
19Coventry153571525-1014
20Rotherham153481420-613
21Nottm Forest15348917-813
22Wycombe15249721-1410
23Sheff Wed15366813-59
24Derby15159722-158
View full Championship table

Top Stories