17/12/2016 15:00 v Middlesbrough
Swansea City endured another painful away day as they were beaten 3-0 by relegation rivals Middlesbrough.
Bob Bradley’s men had hoped to respond to their midweek reverse at West Bromwich Albion with a big display at the Riverside.
But in truth the Swans never really looked like getting a result once Alvaro Negredo had fired Middlesbrough in to an 18th-minute lead.
The former Manchester City striker swept home a penalty to double Boro’s lead before half-time.
And Aitor Karanka’s team made it 3-0 just before the hour through Marten de Roon.
A miserable afternoon on Teesside means the Swans remain in the Premier League drop zone over Christmas.
The Swans started the game with some purpose, and only a couple of minutes had passed when Gylfi Sigurdsson had the afternoon’s first effort on goal.
The Icelander’s 25-yarder was well-struck, but Victor Valdes sprang to his right to push the ball to safety.
But the flickers of early promise shown by the visitors were soon wiped away as Boro took control.
Negredo’s first effort of the afternoon was a cross-shot which was dealt with by Lukasz Fabianski.
But when the Swans coughed up possession in the middle of the field on 18 minutes, the home side surged forward to open the scoring.
Adam Clayton made ground down left flank before drilling in a cross which Negredo half-volleyed back across Fabianski and inside the far post.
It was a fine finish, but the Swans might have done better earlier in the piece.
Gaston Ramirez had the home crowd on their feet next, but his free-kick dipped narrowly over the crossbar.
Just before the half hour, however, the Swans were 2-0 down.
Bradley’s side felt they should have been awarded the throw when the ball went out of down their left.
When the decision went the other way, Boro took the throw quickly and the Swans’ defence was exposed.
Adam Forshaw cut the ball inside Jordi Amat, who brought his man down with an outstretched leg.
Referee Neil Swarbrick pointed to the spot, and Negredo sent Fabianski the wrong way from 12 yards.
The Swans began the second period with some decent possession, although the threat on Valdes’s goal was minimal.
Boro had the first effort of any note after the break, when Stewart Downing’s drive flew straight into the arms of Fabianski.
Just as Bradley prepared to change things, with Borja waiting on the touchline to come on, the hosts scored their third goal.
Ramirez curled in an inviting cross from the right flank, and de Roon ghosted in behind the Swans’ defence to cushion a volley past the helpless Fabianski.
Now Borja arrived, and he was soon joined by Leroy Fer as Bradley attempted to inspire an unlikely revival.
The Swans did ask a few questions, with Fernando Llorente nodding over from Wayne Routledge’s cross before Alfie Mawdson followed suit from a Sigurdsson corner.
Sigurdsson turned his man well on the edge of the box only to fire a shot over the woodwork.
As the clock ticked down, Fer saw a fierce volley blocked by Ben Gibson and Sigurdsson’s curler flew just wide of the post.
The Swans felt they should have had a penalty when de Roon bundled into Sigurdsson as he prepared to let fly, but the referee was not interested. Valdes pushed out Llorente’s header at the end, the final whistle brought a bleak afternoon for the visitors to an end.
MIDDLESBROUGH: Victor Valdes, Antonio Barragan, Calum Chambers, Ben Gibson, Fabio (Adama Traore 87), Adam Clayton, Marten de Roon, Adam Forshaw, Viktor Fischer (Downing 11), Gaston Ramirez (George Friend 63), Alvaro Negredo.
SUBS: Brad Guzan, Bernardo, Grant Leadbitter, Jordan Rhodes.
SWANS: Lukasz Fabianski, Angel Rangel, Jordi Amat, Alfie Mawson, Neil Taylor, Leon Britton (capt, Leroy Fer 70), Jay Fulton, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Modou Barrow (Borja 59), Wayne Routledge (Jefferson Montero 77), Fernando Llorente.
SUBS: Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Kyle Naughton, Mike van der Hoorn, Jack Cork.