Middlesbrough pick up welcome point against West Brom
Middlesbrough's winless run in the Premier League continued although they claimed what could be a crucial point in their fight for survival with a 1-1 draw against West Brom at a wet and windy Riverside.
Boro, who had collected just two points from their last five top-flight matches prior to this fixture, fell behind when their former midfielder James Morrison lashed home from 20 yards early on.
But in an entertaining opening half they drew level when Gareth McAuley needlessly brought down Martin de Roon in the area and Alvaro Negredo slotted home the resulting penalty, which proved to be the end of the scoring.
Both sides had chances to go ahead in a more sedate second half as Matt Phillips and Salomon Rondon struck opposite posts in quick succession while De Roon's first-time effort drew a fine save from Baggies goalkeeper Ben Foster.
A point may soothe the mood of Boro boss Aitor Karanka, who on Monday admitted his frustrations at failing to sufficiently add to his squad in the January transfer window, with targets Robert Snodgrass and Jese Rodriguez moving elsewhere.
However, Crystal Palace's win at Bournemouth means they are now only two points clear of the drop zone.
Karanka, who made seven changes to the line-up from the 1-0 FA Cup win over Accrington at the weekend, saw his side fall behind after six minutes.
After the home side failed to clear their lines from a ball into the box, West Brom skipper Darren Fletcher expertly chested down to Morrison and the former Boro academy product rifled low past Victor Valdes from the edge of the area.
Boro were nearly two down inside the first quarter of an hour as Chris Brunt's dipping volley went narrowly over, but they were given a lifeline in the 17th minute when McAuley senselessly hacked down De Roon in the area, allowing Negredo to stroke home the spot-kick as he sent Foster the wrong way.
The Teessiders, galvanised by their equaliser, felt they should have had another spot-kick when Cristhian Stuani went down under Allan Nyom's challenge but referee Stuart Attwell was this time unmoved.
While Boro were having difficulties clearing crosses into their area they looked more than a handful going forward and they almost pulled ahead when Nyom diverted Adama Traore's cross towards goal, only for Foster to keep it out as well as Stuani's rebound from an acute angle.
At the other end, Valdes was alert to keep out Negredo's inadvertent header from Brunt's ball into the area as the teams went in at the break level.
On the resumption, Valdes was beaten twice as West Brom hit both posts in the space of seconds, first through Phillips' diving header then Rondon's follow up.
Immediately afterwards, Boro broke down the right which led to De Roon's first time strike being magnificently clawed away by Foster.
Neither side seemed content to settle for what would be a second draw between the teams this season, following a goalless stalemate at the Hawthorns in August.
Boro had three shots in quick succession blocked by last-gasp Baggies defending while the ever dangerous Brunt's strike from distance had to be tipped over by Valdes.
Phillips could not direct his strike goalwards in the closing stages and while Boro finished strongly, they could not find a way through a resistant Albion defence as the spoils were shared.