v’s deflected second-half goal helped Middlesbrough claim a 2-2 draw at Hull but a point apiece does little to boost either side’s Sky Bet Championship play-off hopes.

Emmanuel Latte Lath followed up a brace in Boro’s 2-0 win over Swansea on Saturday with an early goal at the MKM Stadium but Jaden Philogene’s cross-cum-shot drew Hull level just before the half hour.

Middlesbrough goalkeeper Seny Dieng played Lewis O’Brien into trouble which allowed Jean Michael Seri to put the Tigers deservedly in the lead ahead of half-time but Azaz had the final say, albeit after his strike took a crucial final touch off Alfie Jones before nestling in the goal.

Both teams sit six points adrift of sixth-placed Norwich with Middlesbrough in ninth, one place ahead of Hull, who have a game in hand over their two rivals.

This was a missed opportunity for both sides, even if Middlesbrough extended their unbeaten run to eight matches and it was the visitors who stormed out of the traps after kick-off was delayed by a quarter of an hour due to heavy traffic in the area.

Hull’s defenders were caught on their heels and paid their price as Latte Lath bagged his sixth goal in his last eight matches.

Having taken six minutes to score in the reverse fixture, which Boro lost 2-1 in December, Latte Lath needed just four this time after stealing in behind a high line and steering beyond Ryan Allsop from an acute angle.

Hull gradually warmed to their task and were unfortunate Abdus Omur slipped at the vital moment in front of goal as his miskick sailed wide while Jacob Greaves’ header was clawed away by Dieng as Middlesbrough were hemmed into their own half.

Hull’s persistence was rewarded as the influential Philogene delivered a teasing ball that seemed to elude Ozan Tufan at the back post before sailing into the net.

While Hull awarded the 29th-minute goal to a celebrating Tufan, it was officially given to Philogene.

Luke Ayling headed off his line following Omur’s chip as Hull continued to pour forward but they were given a helping hand four minutes before half-time.

Dieng’s attempt to play out from the back backfired spectacularly as Seri nudged O’Brien off the ball on the edge of his own area before lashing into the top corner.

Despite being outplayed for most of the first half, Middlesbrough might have drawn level at the start of the second as Jonny Howson’s thunderous effort was palmed by Allsop into the path of Latte Lath, who got into a tangle and could not slot in the rebound.

Howson at the other end made a desperate intervention to block Seri’s goal-bound effort while Regan Slater drilled across the face of goal and wide as Hull looked to give themselves some breathing room.

Their inability to do so came back to haunt them as they were hit on the break in the 71st minute.

Azaz exchanged passes with Isaiah Jones before bearing down on goal and his shot ricocheted off Jones and over Allsop as Middlesbrough drew level.

Omur might have nicked victory for Hull in the closing stages after springing the offside trap and going clean through but he was denied by the legs of Dieng.

John O’Shea will not allow the emotion of his journey from Under-15s player to Republic of Ireland manager to distract him as he prepares to guide his country into friendly battle with Belgium.

The 42-year-old former defender won 118 senior caps for Ireland during a distinguished playing career which brought him five Premier League titles, an FA Cup, three League Cups and a Champions League in his 12-year spell at Manchester United.

Having been placed in temporary charge of the national team as the Football Association of Ireland prepares to unveil Stephen Kenny’s successor early next month, O’Shea, who grew up as a footballer under the watchful eye of Sir Alex Ferguson, will head into Saturday’s clash with the Belgians concentrating only on the 90 minutes in front of him.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, he said: “It’s an incredible honour to be manager of your country, to get the chance to represent Ireland from U-15 onwards and all the levels, captain your country.

“The chance to be involved coaching with the Under-21s and the senior team and now being manager, it’s amazing, one that myself and my family are really proud of.

“When you first get the players together and chatting to them the first time as well, that’s the key part and sets the tone for the week ahead. That’s where I just kept it in my head very simple in terms of the staff that I brought in.

“I will be able to touch into those connections afterwards, as well in terms of the learnings from the two games and how you progress.

“That will be a big thing, too, but ultimately, I just want to focus on the staff, myself and the players and not be worried about too much outside noise.”

O’Shea, who worked with the senior team under Kenny after stepping up from the Under-21 ranks and will serve as head coach for Saturday’s game and Tuesday’s friendly against Switzerland, plans to inform the players of his team selection on Friday, and then take a low-key approach ahead of kick-off.

He said: “I’ve worked under many managers that have played at different levels, and it’s just a case of you’re trying to get a connection as soon as you can with the players to make them feel relaxed because, ultimately – as I’ve stressed before – they’re the key to everything.

“They’re the key to performing to winning matches and you just have to try and get that connection with the group. And whatever team is selected, they’re backing each other up no matter what.”

O’Shea could hand senior debuts to in-form Blackburn forward Sammie Szmodics, Lyon defender Jake O’Brien and Middlesbrough midfielder Finn Azaz, while Southampton defender Ryan Manning has joined up with the squad after recovering from injury.

He said: “The good thing is there are good players in form and it’s a nice problem to have in a good few positions.”

Belgium, who are ranked fourth in the world by FIFA, will be without injured superstars Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku as they defend an 11-game unbeaten run in all competitions.

Michael Carrick praised Middlesbrough’s incredible spirit after an impressive 2-1 victory at Championship leaders Leicester ended a four-game winless run.

Boro completed a league double over the Foxes after Finn Azaz produced a cool finish into the top left corner from Lewis O’Brien’s square pass to break the deadlock in the 24th minute before Samuel Silvera powered home to double the lead eight minutes before half-time.

Despite Jamie Vardy finding the bottom left corner with five minutes left to play from Tom Cannon’s ball in behind, Boro held on to claim their first win at the King Power Stadium and inflict a first home defeat on the Foxes since November.

The visitors remain seven points off the play-off places and Carrick insists his side have plenty more to offer after securing just their second league victory since the turn of the year.

Carrick said: “The spirit and the will to win was there, tactically the boys understood it, the boys were so eager to carry it out, it’s not easy as we’ve taken a few hits lately, the spirit was incredible.

“I’m just happy the boys had something go their way for a change, they deserve it because they’re an unbelievable group to work with, it doesn’t surprise me.

“The players are happy without being overly happy which is good, they’re eager to bring on what’s next, there was almost a feeling we could have scored one or two more and made it a little bit easier, they had chances towards the end, but there’s a good sense that that is still not enough, we want some more.

“We played very similar to how we played at home against them, they put five across their top line, it was just different personnel and the boys did their specific jobs unbelievably well and I was really pleased they took that on board.”

Leicester missed a number of gilt-edged chances throughout as Jannik Vestergaard twice failed to hit the target from close range while substitute Vardy blazed over the bar shortly before he reduced the deficit.

The Foxes saw their eight-game unbeaten run at home come to an end although Leicester boss Enzo Maresca was pleased his side kept fighting until the final whistle despite lacking quality in the final third.

Maresca said: “It was just one of those days you have to drop points, we created many chances before their goal, we pushed until the end and tried until the end and that’s the most important thing.

“Even playing a different way we created a lot of chances, we tried to adjust and adapt, we lost a little bit of balance after we conceded the first goal and we conceded some counter attacks which we need to avoid.

“We missed the last pass, even with these things that we need to improve, we had many chances that we missed, we were close, it’s part of our season, we can’t think we’re going to win every game.

“We have 13 games, we need to win some more games to reach our target, it’s not easy, you can drop points every game in the Championship, from now on all the games are important, we didn’t drop in terms of commitment, it was a lack of quality in the last third.”

Middlesbrough claimed their first win at the King Power Stadium with a 2-1 victory over Championship leaders Leicester.

After the Foxes missed two big chances to take the lead, Finn Azaz opened the scoring in the 24th minute with a clever finish from Lewis O’Brien’s square pass before Samuel Silvera’s emphatic strike after 37 minutes extended Boro’s advantage.

Substitute Jamie Vardy halved the deficit in the 85th minute, producing an excellent finish into the bottom left corner, but Boro held on to end a four-game winless run and complete the double over Leicester.

The Foxes, who lost at home for the first time since November, are now nine points in front of second-placed Leeds – their next opponents on Friday.

The home side spurned a golden opportunity to take the lead after five minutes when Jannik Vestergaard headed Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s cross from the right into the side netting from five yards.

Leicester missed another gilt-edged chance soon after as Patson Daka somehow miscued his close-range header, sending the ball across the face of goal.

Moments later, Abdul Fatawu cut in from the right and saw his goalbound effort blocked behind by Matt Clarke.

Boro took full advantage of those missed opportunities to break the deadlock when Silvera released O’Brien in behind and the midfielder squared the ball across the box to Azaz who coolly lifted into the top left corner.

Foxes defender Ricardo Pereira then made a crucial interception as he cut out O’Brien’s square ball after Boro caught Leicester on the counter attack from their own corner.

However, the visitors doubled their lead after Stephy Mavididi played a short pass to James Justin from a throw-in and Riley McGree pounced to slip in Silvera who smashed the ball into the left corner of the goal.

Leicester searched for a way back into the game before the break as Fatawu’s shot from 20 yards dipped narrowly over the crossbar before Dewsbury-Hall saw his effort deflect over the top.

Boro could have extended their lead early in the second half when Azaz lifted a pass through to McGree and Foxes goalkeeper Mads Hermansen hesitated coming off his line only for the midfielder to carry the ball out of play.

McGree then curled a free-kick inches wide of the post from 25 yards after Wout Faes bodychecked Azaz to break up a promising Boro attack.

Leicester should have reduced the deficit when Kasey McAteer played a ball across the box to fellow substitute Vardy only for the veteran striker to blaze his shot over the bar from close range before Vestergaard repeated the feat moments later.

However, Vardy made amends for his earlier miss five minutes from time when he produced a clinical finish into the bottom left corner after racing onto Tom Cannon’s ball in behind the Boro defence.

The Foxes were unable to find a leveller as Boro put their bodies on the line to win away at Leicester for the first time since September 2001 and bring an end to the home side’s four-game winning run.

Plymouth boss Steven Schumacher hailed his side’s fighting spirit as they came back from a goal down to beat 10-man Rotherham 3-2 with a stoppage-time winner at Home Park.

Rotherham had taken an early lead through Jamie Lindsay but goals either side of half-time from Finn Azaz, the first from the penalty spot, put Argyle in the driving seat.

The Millers then had central defender Daniel Ayala sent off in the 55th minute for a second yellow but still managed to level through Tom Eaves, before Morgan Whittaker’s last-gasp strike earned Plymouth their seventh home win of the season.

Schumacher said: “The thing with our lads is because they are young and inexperienced at this level they make mistakes at times, which we can forgive, but what we can never doubt is they never give up and keep going right until the very end.

“I wish it wasn’t as eventful, but to play nearly an hour in the first half and decisions that were made, to score a penalty and all that, it was quite a draining afternoon.

“There was a lot going on but, at the end of the day, today’s result was the most important thing.

“We played so well and worked so hard on Wednesday night (to draw 0-0 at QPR) and we wanted to back that up with three points.

“We made hard work of it really, especially when we went 2-1 up and then they had 10 men. It should have been more comfortable than it was.

“Credit to Rotherham I thought they were brilliant, really well organised and really hard working and a massive threat when they were throwing balls into the box.

“It was tough game and a tougher game than it should have been.”

Despite starting his tenure off on a losing note, new Rotherham boss Leam Richardson, who only took charge earlier this week, took many positives from his team’s display.

He said: “I have been here for a matter of days and you are always looking for signs of encouragement. We put a lot into that game and we should have got more out of it.

“You can only ask for a minimum requirement from your team and that is hard work, desire, application and we had a lot of that today.

“It was a very competitive game. It went the way we thought it would go and we were comfortable within that.

“It is a tough one to take but we stuck at it and we gave a really good account of ourselves coming to a team who are very good on their home pitch.

“While it was 11 against 11, we were comfortable in the game, growing into the game, and deserved to lead.”

Morgan Whittaker scored a dramatic late winner as Plymouth snatched a 3-2 result over 10-man Rotherham at Home Park in the Sky Bet Championship.

The playmaker struck six minutes into stoppage time to cause misery for the visitors, who saw defender Daniel Ayala sent off for a second bookable offence in the 55th minute.

Rotherham had taken the lead through Jamie Lindsay but Argyle turned things around with two goals from Finn Azaz, the first from the penalty spot, either side of half-time.

Despite Ayala’s dismissal, the Millers still managed to level through substitute Tom Eaves but Whittaker’s last-gasp strike ensured the points stayed in Plymouth.

It was no more than the home side deserved after twice hitting the post in the first half and putting Rotherham under the cosh for long spells, although it was the visitors who broke the deadlock after 16 minutes following a defensive mix-up in the Argyle penalty area.

The ball fell to striker Sam Nombe, who teed up Lindsay to fire home from just inside the box.

In the 25th minute Ayala was cautioned for a foul on Azaz, resulting in a 20-yard free-kick. However, Whittaker’s superb curling strike around the wall clipped the outside of the post.

Rotherham could have increased their lead minutes later on the counter-attack, but Jordan Hugill headed high and wide from Dexter Lembikisa’s pinpoint cross from the right.

Injuries to Plymouth strikers Ryan Hardie and his replacement, substitute Mustapha Bundu, then caused a lengthy delay which resulted in 16 minutes of stoppage time at the end of the first half.

It was during this that Argyle were gifted an equaliser, winning a penalty after a foul on Lewis Gibson by Nombe. Azaz sent United goalkeeper Viktor Johansson the wrong way from the spot.

Azaz, who also saw another effort ping back off the post with the last action of the first half, then put the hosts in front for the first time in the 52nd minute.

Whittaker sent over a pacy cross from the right and Azaz tucked the ball away with a neat side-foot finish at the far post.

Things went from bad to worse for Rotherham just three minutes later when Ayala received a red card for handball, but Argyle failed to make the most of their one-man advantage and the Millers restored parity through Eaves in the 77th minute.

Christ Tiehi’s cross from the left to the far post was headed back across the six-yard box by Sean Morrison to fellow substitute Eaves for a simple tap-in.

Two minutes later Johansson made a brilliant stop with his legs to deny Bali Mumba as the wing-back was put in on goal by Azaz.

But Argyle had the final say when Azaz flicked the ball into Whittaker’s path and he made no mistake, hammering in six minutes into time added on.

Steven Schumacher praised his Plymouth side’s home form as they secured a 2-0 Championship win over Sunderland at Home Park.

First-half goals by attacking midfielders Morgan Whittaker and Finn Azaz set 19th-placed Argyle on their way to a fifth home win.

The Argyle boss said: “Our home form is so important to us. When we get it right here and play with the energy and tempo we do, then we are a match for anyone.

“Sunderland started the game incredibly well, incredibly fast and we had to dig in and stick together to get through that tough period. It was similar in the second half.

“Then when we had our chances, we were clinical with them.

“If we could have taken one of those breaks that we created in the second half it would have given everybody a bit more room to relax but it wasn’t meant to be and the clean sheet was excellent.

“Morgan is an incredibly talented player and we know that. We brought him here to create and score goals and that’s what he is doing. He loves playing here, he loves playing for us and we are really seeing the best of him.

“I think there were some really good, talented players out there today and Morgan has shown he is one of the best players in the Championship.

“I am pleased for everybody because the whole team have really put in a shift today, not only Morgan and Finn, who scored the goals, but I thought Luke Cundle was excellent and he had a hand in both of the goals.

“Now we need to put together back-to-back wins, and Tuesday’s game at Coventry gives us that opportunity.”

Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray said: “We have to keep going, we work with the strikers every day, they (Plymouth) had two shots on target and scored both of them.

“We were pretty dominant during the game, we know they can score goals and they showed they can do that.

“We were a bit disappointed in the first half, we didn’t get to the intensity we wanted and we needed to score in the first 10 minutes of the first half. We didn’t make the keeper work enough, just not finding the space in the box to find the pass.

“Jack Clarke drove into the box about 30 times, but we were hitting the first man a few times and not finding the right player.

“We are a work in process, there are plenty of positives as well. They worked hard enough and we will not be harsh on them. We play five attacking players every game and we have scored 27 goals, I keep getting told a striker hasn’t scored in 16 games and yet we have scored 27 goals.

“The way forward is to keep going, put the ball in the box and keep working hard and hopefully it will come.

“For their second goal, the lad shouldn’t have been allowed to step inside. Credit to Plymouth, they fought really hard, they were well-organised, and have attacking players at the top end who showed they can score a goal. They have been doing that all season.”

Steven Schumacher praised the “outstanding” character of his Plymouth side as they fought back to draw 3-3 with Middlesbrough at Home Park.

Goals from Bali Mumba, Finn Azaz and Morgan Whittaker cancelled out efforts from Boro striker Josh Coburn (2) and Sam Greenwood.

The Argyle boss said: “If we play as well as we do then we’ve got to get points, so I’m pleased that we got a point today.”

“I thought it was a great game, two good teams who obviously like to attack.

“There were moments of quality and passages of good play from both sides.

“I felt we were really good first half. Even though we fell behind I thought we were playing well and probably deserved to go in ahead.

“Second half they came out and we couldn’t get the ball off them for 15 minutes and they’ve shown their quality and got themselves ahead.

“So, it was a really tough game, end to end, but the character of our players was outstanding and I’m really pleased to get something from the game because overall I would say a draw was a fair result.

“Since I have been in charge we have always said ‘try and be positive and get on the front foot’ and ‘try and enjoy the game and be exciting’.

“I know at times that can leave us open and I know at times we can defend better and make less errors.

“But we have also got to remember the players we have got and not many of them have played at this level, so they haven’t got the experience that Middlesbrough have got or loads of other Championship teams.

“We are getting better and we can only learn and develop, so that’s what I want them to do, what I believe and hopefully what our fans like to see.”

Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick said: “We did enough to win the game. A lot of the performance was good, we didn’t give them an awful lot and what we did give them they punished us for.

“We were terrific in the second half and they had a free-kick that came from nowhere go in at the back post and it is what it is.

“We didn’t start particularly well but we looked dangerous and got the goal and put ourselves in a good position.

“We had a few minutes where we let them into the spaces we knew they wanted to be in and that was frustrating.

“Then the second half I thought we were terrific. The free-kick going in changed the last 10 minutes, so it is a bit frustrating.

“We appreciate all the effort the fans have gone to this week and to add the Norwich one on the back of that a week before, it’s an incredible two weeks of travelling and effort from them.

“We have given them a couple of wins, but this one we felt like we did enough.

“They have seen goals, application and effort from the boys, so there was enough to celebrate and it was nice to spend a few moments with them at the end and show them how much we appreciate them.”

Plymouth boss Steven Schumacher was thrilled to see his side show their true colours after bouncing back from their midweek mauling at Bristol City with a stunning demolition of Norwich.

Argyle were humbled 4-1 at Ashton Gate on Tuesday but it was their turn to dish out the pain on Saturday as they thrashed the Canaries 6-2 at Home Park.

Morgan Whittaker led the way with a hat-trick while Dan Scarr, Finn Azaz and substitute Luke Cundle were also on the scoresheet for the rampant hosts, who led 4-0 at half-time.

Norwich pulled two goals back through Adam Idah’s brace but they were already 5-0 down at the time and well on course for a comprehensive loss.

Schumacher said: “I thought we played really well and I spoke earlier in the week about how our performance on Tuesday didn’t look like us.

“It’s been a while since we had a performance like Tuesday and we felt we could do something about it.

“It wasn’t a hard fix really. It was just about putting in a bit more effort and obviously getting people in the right positions and doing the basics right.

“When we get that right as a team we always look a threat and so I was really pleased with the reaction from the lads.

“We knew that the speed that we have got up top would cause their centre-backs problems.

“What pleased me the most was the understanding of what we were trying to do and then the execution of it was brilliant.”

Whittaker opened the scoring in the 15th minute and Scarr added a second 20 minutes later but it was in first-half stoppage time where Plymouth did the real damage as Azaz and Whittaker doubled their lead in a decisive spell.

Schumacher added: “We were thinking of going in at 2-0 at half-time and all of a sudden we were going in at 4-0. That was a bit of a mad few minutes but it gives you that cushion.

“We spoke about having to concentrate because we know the quality they have got and if they got the first goal early then there would be 45 minutes for them to score three goals and they could easily do that.

“We said stick to the plan keep doing what we are doing and if we got another opportunity to counter-attack try and take it.

“When we got the fifth goal it settled everybody down.”

Whittaker was celebrating his first Championship hat-trick and Schumacher said of the 22-year-old: “I am buzzing for Morgan. He’s obviously a huge player for us.

“Before today he had one goal and four assists, now he’s got four goals so he’ll be pleased with his day’s work. I thought him and Finn Azaz today were outstanding.”

Canaries boss David Wagner was left fuming at his side’s performance, saying the players lost their heads.

He said: “It was a disappointing result and a horrible afternoon for us.

“I am very angry about how we responded after we conceded the first goal which was an offside situation.

“For the second goal we didn’t do our job in the wall when they had two players on the ball, and after the two goals unfortunately we totally lost our heads and this is something that should not happen.

“Then we conceded four counter-attack goal -because we lost our heads we played in spaces where we shouldn’t play.

“We have been quite solid at the back in the past and haven’t looked vulnerable on the counter-attack and today was totally the opposite and this is something that is not good enough.

“We lost our heads after the first two goals and conceded a deserved heavy defeat because of it.

“We wanted them to win the second half and make it better but we conceded two further counter-attack goals in the transition.

“This game is quite easily explained, and the players are smart enough they know exactly what went wrong and we will show them again and discuss this.

“This can’t happen. Football is a game of mistakes but you can’t lose your head.”

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