2016/2017 English Premier League

Swansea and Middlesbrough play out scrappy stalemate

Swansea and Middlesbrough shared a goalless draw at the Liberty Stadium -- a result that does little to alleviate either's Premier League relegation worries.

Hull's victory over West Ham on Saturday left Swansea outside the drop zone only on superior goal difference.

Middlesbrough's position is more precarious -- five points adrift of Swansea, albeit with a game in hand -- and they might come to rue substitute Rudy Gestede failing to take the best chance of the match in stoppage time.

A match that highlighted the failings of both sides in front of goal will only serve to encourage the teams around them.

There was no shortage of endeavour or commitment, but neither team could provide the defining moment of quality that would have meant so much.

Swansea suffered a blow before kick-off when top scorer Fernando Llorente was ruled out with a calf problem.

But Boro had to withstand an early Swansea flurry in which Martin Olsson fired an angled shot over and Ayew stung Victor Valdes' palms from 20 yards.

But the Middlesbrough defence stood increasingly firm, the real moments of Swansea danger in the first half coming from Gylfi Sigurdsson's expert dead-ball delivery.

Boro's threat was also fleeting in a first period which started brightly but quietened down.

They looked to utilise the pace of Adama Traore on the break, one such lightning raid ending with Leroy Fer cautioned for a cynical trip.

Alvaro Negredo and Stewart Downing had shots blocked in the same attack, the former bringing optimistic appeals for a penalty after the Spaniard's shot had struck the arm of Alfie Mawson.

But the Swansea defender's arm was in a natural position and referee Bobby Madley was not interested in pointing to the spot.

Tom Carroll went close to breaking the deadlock with a 25-yard drive that whistled past the post as Boro reorganised with targetman Gestede replacing the injured Gaston Ramirez.

The game's most dangerous moments centred around the two best players, Sigurdsson and Traore.

Sigurdsson had one tame effort before the Iceland international produced a delicious touch to find a yard of space and unleash a 25-yard piledriver that Valdes stretched to push away.

At the other end Traore dragged his shot wide before outpacing Mawson and picking out Adam Clayton at the far post.

Clayton headed the ball down into the path of Negredo, but Lukasz Fabianski was out quickly from his goal to prevent the striker from profiting.

Negredo had another opening after 75 minutes when Gestede nodded down Bernado Espinosa's long ball into his path.

He did well to hold off Mawson but he was off balance when he took a shot which ended wide of Fabianski's goal.

Swansea had late opportunities when Sigurdsson's free-kick was deflected wide -- the hosts believing a penalty might have been awarded after the ball had struck a Boro arm -- and Mawson's goalbound header was cleared by Marten de Roon.

But Gestede wasted an even better chance at the death when he sent his far-post header wide.