Middlesbrough 0-0 Leicester: Boro held to goalless draw by defending Premier League champions
By Patrick Surlis
Last Updated: 03/01/17 7:48am
Middlesbrough were held to a goalless draw by Leicester City at the Riverside Stadium on Monday afternoon.
Gaston Ramirez squandered the best opportunity of the game with seven minutes to play, smashing a half-volley just wide of Kasper Schmeichel's post.
Leicester, who have taken just three points from a possible 30 away from home in the Premier League this season, almost snatched victory when Andy King's header was saved deep into stoppage time.
Boro, who had a £6m bid for Rudy Gestede accepted by Aston Villa before kick-off, are now winless against the Foxes in their last 14 league matches and remain two points behind the defending champions in 16th place.
The two teams are in FA Cup third round action next as Middlesbrough host Sheffield Wednesday and Leicester travel to Everton, with Claudio Ranieri set to be without Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani, Daniel Amartey and Jeff Schlupp, who will report for Africa Cup of Nations duty.
Ranieri and Aitor Karanka each made five changes following New Year's Eve fixtures and it led to a disjointed first half lacking chances.
With Slimani absent due to a virus and Danny Drinkwater rested, Ranieri opted for Shinji Okazaki and Leonardo Ulloa up front but the first opportunity fell to the returning Christian Fuchs, who fired narrowly wide from 20 yards.
Adama Traore was Boro's main threat and he had a penalty appeal rejected when he tumbled under the challenge of Robert Huth in the Leicester box.
Marten de Roon miscued a first-time effort over Schmeichel's bar and Traore wasted a couple of promising crossing opportunities as Middlesbrough pushed for an opener.
Karanka, forced to replace Antonio Barragan with George Friend before the break due to a suspected hamstring injury, also introduced Stewart Downing and the hosts enjoyed the better of the second half.
Friend offered an outlet for Boro on their left and his teasing low delivery failed to get the finish it deserved, with Alvaro Negredo and Ramirez on their heels.
The substitute then went close himself, firing over after cutting in off his left flank, while Ulloa headed straight at Brad Guzan, in goal for the injured Victor Valdes.
Middlesbrough continued to look the more likely and should have gone ahead when Ramirez smashed his low shot wide after Wes Morgan's miscued clearance.
Ranieri brought on Ahmed Musa and Demarai Gray and the visitors nearly stunned Boro late on, but Ulloa headed over before King's awkward effort was saved by Guzan.
Middlesbrough: Guzan (7), Barragan (6), Chambers (7), Gibson (8), Fabio (8), Clayton (7), De Roon (6), Forshaw (6), Traore (6), Ramirez (7), Negredo (6)
Subs used: Downing (6), Friend (7), Leadbitter (6)
Leicester: Schmeichel (7), Simpson (7), Huth (8), Morgan (7), Fuchs (7), King (6), Amartey (6), Mendy (6), Mahrez (6), Okazaki (6), Ulloa (6)
Subs used: Musa (6), Gray (6), Albrighton (6)
Man of the match: Robert Huth