Boro doomed after Villa draw
Boro coach Gareth Southgate (File)
Middlesbrough - Middlesbrough's hopes of Premier League survival suffered what appeared to be a fatal setback after they conceded an early lead to draw 1-1 with Aston Villa on Saturday.
John Carew's second-half equaliser cancelled out Tuncay Sanli's overhead kick to leave Boro three points adrift of safety with one match left to play and a four-goal deficit to make up on Hull, the side occupying the final survival spot.
The Boro fans clearly believed their side was doomed and manager Gareth Southgate was booed off the pitch at the end of a bitterly disappointing afternoon.
Boro could yet survive but only if they win their final match at West Ham, Newcastle lose at Aston Villa and Hull lose at home to Manchester United by a sufficient margin.
Boro's cause was not helped by the loss of Jeremie Aliadiere to an ankle injury but the home supporters were encouraged by a strong opening which yielded Tuncay's opener after 14 minutes.
Julio Arca fed Stewart Downing and when the England winger's shot was deflected up in the air, the Turkey forward produced an acrobatic finish that left Brad Friedel helpless.
That was Downing's last significant contribution as he was stretchered off shortly afterwards following a challenge by Stiliyan Petrov.
With Villa failing to click, Boro had chances to extend their lead and Justin Hoyte saw one shot deflected over by Carlos Cuellar before having another effort saved by Friedel.
As the game wore on, Boro's nerves began to show and Villa claimed the equaliser after Marlon King, who had replaced Downing, sliced a clearance to Carew.
The big forward was surrounded by defenders but he managed to work himself into sufficient space to curl a shot into the far corner of the net.
Ashley Young spurned two good chances to clinch victory for Villa but neither side could claim to have done enough to earn all three points.