In a turgid game at the Riverside with Saints comfortably in mid-table… although Patrick Bamford did score his first ever top flight goal
JAY RODRIGUEZ and Nathan Redmond condemned already-relegated Boro to another loss despite Patrick Bamford’s first goal in more than two years.
The first half was the most turgid of affairs, Southampton fans chanting “we’ve had a shot” when a Maya Yoshida headed harmlessly at Boro keeper Brad Guzan.
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But just before the break, the Riverside were awoken from their slumber by a Saints goal through Jay Rodriguez, who swept home Shane Long’s cross on the half-volley.
It was the only moment of quality in the game until then, with Boro going close for the first time after the restart when Adam Forshaw’s effort was deflected just wide.
Bamford, so disappointing at Premier League level, slicing the ball horribly over the bar from a Boro corner in their best chance of the match.
And just a minute later substitute Nathan Redmond made it 2-0 to Claude Puel’s men with a stunning finish, curling home into the top corner from the edge of the box amid woeful Boro defending.
Rodriguez even had time to sky a penalty horribly high over the crossbar after Long was brought down by Braz Guzan – with Boro fans chanting for their man to be sent off.
Bamford though did manage to score his first ever Premier League goal after a number of loans, heading in Viktor Fischer’s corner – it was his first goal full stop since April 2015.
Southampton sat back making for a nervy finale, but Boro could not find a way past Fraser Forster who had to save smartly from Calum Chambers – meaning all three points went back to the south coast.
FACTS, STATS, GOALS & LOLS
- Aitor Karanka may be gone but he is far from forgotten. When Nathan Redmond hammered home Southampton’s second Middlesbrough supporters’ 12th Man group started singing the Spanish coach’s name.
- Claude Puel could be seeing out his days at Southampton but the French coach left out record signing Manolo Gabbiadini. The Italy international, who cost £14million from Napoli in January, has scored four goals in seven games but did not make the visitors’ bench.
- Jay Rodriguez took advantage of his 16th start of the season, notching his fifth league goal of the season before the break. The one-time England striker attracted interest from West Brom and Sunderland in January and could be on the move this summer.
- The Premier League looks like it has already said farewell to veteran keeper Victor Valdes. The former Barcelona Number One has now been absent for the last six games with a rib injury and is unlikely to appear in the final game at Liverpool next week.
- Three Middlesbrough captains have all reached landmarks in the last week. Grant Leadbitter and George Friend both played their 200th Boro games at Chelsea while Ben Gibson notched his 200th career appearance at Stamford Bridge. All three have skippered Boro this season.
- Gareth Southgate may have his pick of Premier League games every week but he chose one of the most meaningless games in the league’s history for his viewing. The England boss, who was deep in conversation with former Boro team-mate and England centre-back Colin Cooper, was once again checking out current Middlesbrough centre-half Ben Gibson.
- One of the men responsible for the success of Middlesbrough’s academy said farewell to the club today. Head of Recruitment Ron Bone, 75, is retiring. Since Bone and academy director Dave Parnaby took charge in 1998, 95 players have played first team football for Boro or another club and 18 have played international football at Under-21 level or higher.
- Look out for the next Middlesbrough academy graduates in the Championship next season. Dael Fry and Harry Chapman were overlooked by Aitor Karanka during his spell in charge but both are in the England Under 20 squad for the summer World Cup finals in South Korea.
- Patrick Bamford’s first Premier League goal may have looked like a mere consolation on a miserable afternoon but it clearly meant a great deal to the former Chelsea striker who kept looking to the heavens as he celebrated his 73rd minute header and first goal in two years.