West Bromwich Albion boss Slaven Bilic has praised Middlesbrough’s fighting spirit and backed them to avoid relegation this season.
Hal Robson-Kanu’s late winner gave the Baggies three points at the Riverside and meant they remain top of the league, two points clear of Leeds United in second.
The 30-year-old, who signed a contract extension at the Hawthorns this week, popped up at the back post to convert a tap on the back of a goalmouth scramble.
Will Boro be relegated this season?
Bilic’s side dominated possession and appeared in the ascendancy but both sides created chances in an end-to-end affair.
The result leaves Boro 21st in the league table, just one point above the drop zone, ahead of a relegation scrap with 22nd-place Huddersfield Town on Wednesday.
A loss in that game would see Jonathan Woodgate’s side slip into the relegation zone and it looks to be a tough test as the Terriers have taken eight points from their last four games.
Speaking to Teesside Live after the game, Bilic suggested that Boro had shown a lot of fight and had enough to avoid relegation troubles this season.
He said: “They’re a massive club with good players and two legends on the bench in Robbie and Jonathan.
“I strongly believe in them, they have two legends on the bench. They are warriors who have done everything in football.
“They have a good team. They are not confident but all they need is a couple of wins. They are fighting hard, they are a good team and gave us a hard game today. If they continue like this they will be out of trouble.”
Woodgate took charge of the club in the summer but has had a shaky start to life as Boro boss, picking up just two victories so far this season.
The loss to the Baggies was in many ways symptomatic of much of Boro’s season. Woodgate’s side were very much in the game but were unable to do enough to get a result.
It’s hard to disagree with Bilic as you feel Boro will have too much quality to get relegated but you never know.
Wednesday’s game against Huddersfield could be a big one for Woodgate as the Terriers upturn in form may tempt the North East club to make a coaching change of their own.