Swansea proved their Championship promotion credentials after Scott Sinclair's late winner sank a stubborn Middlesbrough outfit yesterday. Former Chelsea winger Sinclair scored his 12th goal of the season with a low drive past the Boro goalkeeper Jason Steele with six minutes left here.
The Swansea manager, Brendan Rodgers, believed the three points were fully deserved following this one-sided contest. Rodgers said: "I said to the players at half-time to keep the faith. We created chances and the performance was outstanding.
"We showed great courage and patience but we eventually got the breakthrough. We controlled the majority of the game and our possession was outstanding. It was a fantastic win for us.
"Scott has done what he has done all season. He's a great talent and brilliant one on one – he always attracts another defender in. He showed great quality and skill to pop inside and finish very well."
Sinclair has been the star attraction in west Wales since his £500,000 move from Stamford Bridge in August. His reward for a series of scintillating displays has been a first call-up to Stuart Pearce's England Under-21 squad for tomorrow's friendly in Germany.
But Sinclair admits he owes a debt of gratitude to former Chelsea reserve and youth manager Rodgers for showing faith in him. Sinclair, 21, said: "I owe Brendan a lot. The success I have had this season is because he has believed in me. I'm really enjoying my time working and playing for the manager.
"I know him and he knows me since I joined Chelsea at 16 – he's getting the best out of me. Brendan has given me the chance to play every week.
"I have been in the international set-up before but not for the Under-21s. It will be a new challenge but I believe I can go into that environment and perform. I'm glad to finally get the call-up."
Tony Mowbray's men had won their two previous matches and looked set for a hard-earned point in a game of few chances when Sinclair lit up a dour encounter by skipping past right-back Tony McMahon and beating Steele at his near post.
The result leaves Mowbray's side in trouble just a place above the relegation zone on goal difference. Mowbray said: "We are disappointed and frustrated and football is a cruel game.
"The longer the game went I thought we could sneak a goal and I was pleased with our effort and work ethic. It may have been harsh on Swansea because they played well and are a good team who keep the ball. They have been together for a number of years and understand the way they play. We came here to frustrate and stifle them and our back five were outstanding. We played pretty well but Scott is a talented player who has added goals to his game."
Swansea City (4-3-3) Se Vries; Rangel, Monk (Taylor, 74), Williams, Tate; Allen, Gower (Cotterill, 62), Pratley; Dyer, Beattie (Dobbie, 73), Sinclair. Substitutes not used: Ma-Kalambay (gk), Orlandi, Agustien, Richards.
Middlesbrough (4-4-2) Steele; McMahon, Wheater, Bates, Bennett; Hoyte (Boyd, 87), O'Neil, Thomson (Bailey, 22), Robson (Arca, 62); McDonald, Lita. Substitutes not used Ripley (gk), Hines, Kink, Tavares.
Booked: Swansea Gower, Tate, Allen; Middlesbrough O'Neil, Robson.
Referee K Hill (Hertfordshire). Match rating 6/10. Attendance 14,906.