x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Southgate looking to future for Boro

Gareth Southgate promised to look forward after seeing his Middlesbrough side relegated last night.

Boro's Robert Huth looks despondent after Middlesbrough's defeat and relegation from the Premier League.
Boro's Robert Huth looks despondent after Middlesbrough's defeat and relegation from the Premier League.

LONDON // Gareth Southgate promised to look forward after seeing his Middlesbrough side relegated last night. They needed to win to have any hope of maintaining their top flight status into a 12th successive season, but they lost abjectly at West Ham. The Boro manager said: "It's a low for our club, our supporters, our players and staff. It's incredible that 35 points have been enough to stay up. It's a painful blow for the club but we have to take the pain today and move forward tomorrow."

Boro's survival always looked unlikely with the Teessiders relying on both Newcastle and Hull to slip up, while needing a victory coupled with a four-goal swing. Having lost their last 11 consecutive Premier League games away from the Riverside, it was with hope rather than expectation that Southgate's men kicked off. Yet it was West Ham who looked the sharper and more determined and only the crossbar prevented Junior Stanislas from firing the hosts into an early first-half lead.

Without the influential Stewart Downing, Boro were all too easily outclassed and outfought in midfield by the youthful trio of Jack Collison, Mark Noble and Stanislas. Carlton Cole broke the deadlock after rounding off a wonderfully constructed West Ham counter-attack, tapping in Herita Ilunga's pass from close range in the 33rd minute. Yet, within five minutes of the second half, Middlesbrough gave themselves hope as Tuncay opened up the West Ham defence for Gary O'Neil to drill past Robert Green from 12 yards to equalise.

That strike should have sparked the Middlesbrough onslaught but instead it was a poor piece of goalkeeping by Brad Jones which allowed the home side to re-take the lead just minutes later. Stanislas let fly from 20-yards in the 58th minute, but Jones somehow allowed the ball to squirm through his hands and into the corner of the net as Boro's fate was finally sealed. sports@thenational.ae