LONDON: Gaston Ramirez’ sending off cost struggling Middlesbrough dear on Saturday as a 4-0 whipping by Bournemouth left them nine points shy of safety in the Premier League.
While they look set to be joined by north east neighbours and bottom side Sunderland in the second tier next term both Hull and Swansea enjoyed victories to keep their hopes alive of staying up.
Hull’s was the more remarkable in that they set Middlesbrough an example in overcoming having just 10 men — Oumar Niasse being dismissed in the first-half — to beat a listless Watford 2-0.
Swansea rode their luck a little at home to Stoke — Marko Arnautovic skying a penalty attempt — but in the end were deserving of the 2-0 win which left them still third from bottom and two points adrift of Hull.
The day’s other match saw West Ham eke out a tedious 0-0 draw with Everton — the point should be enough to ensure the Hammers remain in the elite next season while Everton moved above Arsenal into sixth spot although they have played three games more than the Gunners.
Both sets of fans at the Bournemouth and Middlesbrough clash conducted a minute’s applause for former Boro and England defender Ugo Ehiogu who died on Friday aged 44 — they repeated it in the 44th minute with chants of ‘Ugo’ ringing round the ground.
However, there was precious little else for the visiting fans to make noise about after that.
‘Boro fell to pieces in a disastrous opening 20 minutes conceding two goals, one to Joshua King in the first minute and when Ramirez was given his marching orders with two bookable offences within minutes of each other the writing appeared on the wall.
The Cherries deservedly got a third in the 65th minute as Marc Pugh’s delightful piece of individual skill and subsequent curling effort was too good for Brad Guzan.
The white flag was truly raised with fullback Charlie Daniels rifling home a fourth with 20 minutes remaining to leave ‘Boro still winless in the league since Christmas and the only side in the top five European leagues to not have won in the league at all in 2017.
Hull’s improvement under Marco Silva has been largely down to their home form having dropped just two points since he took over and despite being a man down their superb spirit since the Portuguese took over shone through.
Niasse was slightly unfortunate to be sent off for his foul on M’Baye Niang but the hosts could thank goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic for a commanding performance in goal to keep them level up to half-time.
His saves were rewarded when Lazar Markovic put the ball into the back of the net on the second time of asking after a neat Hull counter attack just after the hour mark — they added a second through Sam Clucas.