Swansea City 0-0 Middlesbrough: Stalemate at the Liberty Stadium
By Richard Morgan
Last Updated: 02/04/17 10:32pm
Swansea City missed out on the chance to move further away from the drop zone after playing out a goalless draw with fellow strugglers Middlesbrough at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday lunchtime.
In a tense game with few clear-cut chances, it will be the Swans who feel the more aggrieved of the two teams, especially with second-placed Tottenham Hotspur to play on Wednesday.
As a result of this stalemate, Swansea remain a point clear of Hull City in 18th, while 19th-placed Boro are still deep in trouble, five points behind their opponents, albeit with a game in hand on the Swans.
Swansea were without leading scorer Fernando Llorente with an ankle injury, meaning a start up front for Jordan Ayew.
The likes of Kyle Naughton, Martin Olsson and Luciano Narsingh were also all recalled as the Swans made three changes from their 2-0 loss at Bournemouth last time out, with Stephen Kingsley and Ki-Sung-Yueng both dropping out.
The visitors, meanwhile, made one change from their 3-1 home defeat to Man Utd in their last league outing, with Grant Leadbitter making way for the more attack-minded Adama Traore.
It was the home side, looking to respond after losing back-to-back league games for the first time under Paul Clement, who made the more impressive start of the two.
Martin Olsson nearly opened the scoring after just seven minutes, but after cutting in from the wing, the left-back fired wastefully over the crossbar.
Three minutes later and Ayew almost marked his start for the Swans with a goal, only for Boro 'keeper Victor Valdes to stand tall and beat the Ghana international's thumping drive away to safety.
However, Middlesbrough - the lowest scorers in the Premier League - also had their moments in the first half, with the visitors feeling hard done by not to have been awarded a penalty after 13 minutes when Stewart Downing's close-range shot struck the hand of Alfie Mawson.
Referee Bobby Madley waved away their appeals as once again Boro went in at the break without having had an effort on target in the first period.
Not that the Swans were creating a whole host of chances themselves, with the closet Clement's side coming to making the breakthrough before half-time being Tom Carroll's long-range strike that flew just past Valdes' right-hand post.
In fairness, both teams came out with more intent after the interval, with Middlesbrough twice going close to opening the scoring before the hour-mark.
However, after working himself some space on the edge of the area, Traore drilled a shot across the six-yard box, while Lukasz Fabianski then had to be alert to keep out Alvaro Negredo's close-range shot after a mazy dribble down the right by the former Barcelona player.
Despite Boro's probings, however, it was Swansea who nearly took the lead after 64 minutes when Gylfi Sigurdsson, twisting and turning some 25 yards out, unleashed a vicious curler. But again Valdes was up to the test with an acrobatic one-handed stop to deny the Iceland playmaker.
The home side carried on pressing right till the end, with Sigurdsson's late free-kick being deflected inches past the post by Adam Forshaw, albeit possibly with the use of a hand, before Mawson's header from the resulting corner was punched clear by Valdes.
And the visitors very nearly won it in injury time, only for substitute Rudy Gestede to nod Negredo's cross just past the post.
Swansea: Fabianski (7), Naughton (6), Fernandez (6), Mawson (7), Olsson (8), Fer (7), Cork (7), Carroll (7), Narsingh (7), Ayew (6), Sigurdsson (7)
Middlesbrough: Valdes (8), Barragan (7), Bernardo (6), Gibson (9), Da Silva (6), de Roon (6), Clayton (6), Traore (8), Downing (6), Ramirez (6), Negredo (6)
Used subs: Gestede (6), Forshaw (6)
Man of the match: Ben Gibson