Boss hails fighting team spirit
STEVE Agnew believes Leroy Sane went down “very easily” for the crucial penalty that broke Boro’s hearts at the Riverside Stadium on Sunday.
Middlesbrough twice took the lead against Manchester City in a pulsating match full of incident. But Pep Guardiola’s side hit back to level twice.
The flashpoint happened in the 67th minute when Marten de Roon was adjudged to have tripped Leroy Sane inside the penalty area. Replays showed minimal contact, if any, and, after the game, Agnew was asked if he felt a sense of injustice?
“Yes,” he answered. “I was disappointed we didn’t see the game out, I thought the lads were terrific and deserved the three points.
“From where I was I didn’t think it was a penalty, I thought the player went down very, very easily and looking at the referee’s position, was he in the correct position to give it?
From where I was, or certainly the video that I’ve seen, it looked like he didn’t have a clear view and I think when you give them you have to be 100% certain.”
Agnew was then asked if he’d spoke to referee Kevin Friend about the penalty.
“No,” he said, “once it’s been given what I was really pleased with was the reaction from the players and the way they responded for the rest of the game and to obviously get the second goal.”
The Boro boss was quick to exonerate de Roon, adding: “He’s a top professional, Marten, and on top of that he’s a very intelligent boy and Marten, when he’s in the penalty area, is not one for making contact and I felt for Marten because he was top class like all the players were today.”
The 2-2 draw means Boro are six points adrift of fourthbottom with just nine to play for against Chelsea, South- ampton and Liverpool. However, Agnew isn’t throwing in the towel.
“I’m very, very confident we can get the results that we need,” he said. “I think the players will take a lot of confidence from playing so well today going into Chelsea.
“I think the performance today just showed the determination and the fighting spirit of the squad and the group of players we’ve been working with for the last few weeks and that was evident against one of the top teams in the county.
“We will reflect on the game and the feedback from the coaching staff to the players will be very, very positive and we’ll look forward to Chelsea.”
On Negredo, who was outstanding against his former club, added: “Alvaro has been very, very good all season.
“His goal today tells you everything, left foot, strong, powerful, and he’s a big game player.”