Middlesbrough interim boss Steve Agnew criticised the controversial penalty decision against Manchester City which left his side’s Premier League survival hopes hanging by a thread.
Boro were 1-0 up at the Riverside Stadium through Alvaro Negredo’s early strike when referee Kevin Friend pointed to the spot after Marten de Roon collided with City substitute Leroy Sane in the box. Sergio Aguero made no mistake from the spot, converting in the 69th minute.
Calum Chambers put Boro back in front only for the returning Gabriel Jesus to salvage a late point for the visitors in a 2-2 draw.
Agnew said: “I thought (Sane) went down very, very easily - and looking at the referee’s position, was he in the correct position to give it?
“From the video I’ve seen it looked like he didn’t have a clear view and I think when you give them, you’ve got to be 100 per cent certain.”
Agnew admitted his frustration after what was arguably his side’s best performance of the season left them six points off safety with just three games to go - with champions-elect Chelsea next up at Stamford Bridge.
“I was very disappointed that we didn’t see the game out,” Agnew added. “I thought the lads were terrific and they deserved the three points.
“I think the performance today just showed the determination and fighting spirit of the squad and the group of players I’ve been working with in the last few weeks, and that was evident against one of the top teams in the country.
“I think the message has been the same in recent weeks - it’s one of being organised and disciplined. We’ll continue to do that and I’m very, very confident we will get the results we need.”
Boro had almost behind in the first 30 seconds, Aguero wriggling into the left side of the box and flashing a shot across the face of goal.
But Boro grabbed the lead their initiative deserved in the 37th minute when de Roon sent Stewart Downing scampering clear down the left flank and when his cross was laid back from George Friend inside the box, Negredo sent a curling left-foot finish past Willy Caballero.
After just four minutes of the second half, during which Caballero plucked the ball off the head of the dangerous de Roon, Guardiola had seen enough and threw on both Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling to bolster his side’s attacking threat.
Inevitably City began to pile on the pressure, but tempers frayed when Sane fell under a challenge by de Roon and after referee Kevin Friend pointed to the spot the Boro players reacted with fury, with Fabio booked for protesting and Sane having to be pulled away from a confrontation.
Aguero dispatched the spot-kick but just three minutes later there was more drama at the other end when Boro substitute Adama Traore burst clear but fell under the challenge of Otamendi on the edge of the box.
Downing’s free-kick was spilled by Otamendi and after a mighty goalmouth scramble, Negredo managed to squeeze the ball across the face of goal at the second attempt where Chambers poked home.
But the drama was not over as Jesus rose unchallenged in the Boro box to head home an Aguero cross and grab the equaliser with four minutes to go.
Middlesbrough: Guzan, Da Silva, Chambers, Gibson, Friend, de Roon, Clayton, Forshaw, Stuani (Traore 73), Negredo (Gestede 82), Downing. Subs Not Used: Konstantopoulos, Bernardo, Fischer, Barragan, Bamford. Booked: Stuani, Forshaw, Da Silva, de Roon. Goals: Negredo 38, Chambers 77.
Man City: Caballero, Otamendi, Kompany, Kolarov, Jesus Navas, Fernandinho, Garcia (Sane 50), Clichy (Sterling 50), De Bruyne, Aguero (Nolito 90), Gabriel Jesus. Subs Not Used: Sagna, Zabaleta, Fernando, Gunn. Booked: Kompany, Sane, Otamendi, Sterling. Goals: Aguero 69 pen, Gabriel Jesus 85.
Att: 29,763 Ref: Kevin Friend