Middlesbrough's woes were worsened on Saturday afternoon in their final Premier League match at the Riverside Stadium, as Southampton secured their first win in a month with a narrow 2-1 victory on Teesside.
It was quite the open first 45 minutes from both sides, with Patick Bamford and Ryan Bertrand having decent opportunities, but first blood belonged to the Saints with Jay Rodriguez's effort three minutes from the break.
The second period brought along a lot more entertainment, with Nathan Redmond adding a second for the visitors before Shane Long missed a penalty. Bamford put some smiles on faces with his consolation, but the curtain was brought down on theatre that is the Riverside which has unfortunately played a tragedy for the majority of the campaign.
Seeing themselves in slowly
Boro's expected fate was sealed last Monday with less than a whimper in their 3-0 defeat to champions Chelsea, but they looked to end their home campaign on a high when they welcomed a wayward Southampton and it was an open affair in the early proceedings.
Bamford looked to get his eye in just two minutes when he looked to be about to pull the trigger, but experienced defender Martín Cáceres started his full Saints debut well as he got across to block.
The better chance fell to the visitors as Long played a great ball across the face of goal, it came into the feet of Bertrand at the back post but he scuffed his effort as it trickled wide.
Breaking the deadlock at a crucial time
Pressure was beginning to build on Claude Puel with side not tasting victory in a month and recovering from their recent midweek defeat to Arsenal, but they managed to nab the lead at a crucial time in what proved to be an excellent example off finishing.
Jordy Clasie played an excellent ball down the channel which fell perfectly into the feet of incoming Long, the Irishman played a great ball which found Rodriguez lurking around the penalty spot and he hit a cool first-time effort into the bottom corner.
Doubling it up
The words of Puel were still ringing in the ears of his players as they cranked the pressure up in the second period, and once again proved critical as they doubled their lead just before the hour mark.
It was too easy for the Saints as Rodriguez was allowed to pick out Redmond on the far left in acres of space, it was easy enough for the substitute to stroll into the area, cut inside and curl a sweet effort into Brad Guzan's top corner.
It could have been game over minutes later as the visitors were handed a penalty, Redmond played a sublime ball into Long which caught Guzan slow off his line and he was punished as he clipped the striker and referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot. Guzan was redeemed for his mistake however, as Long skied his effort which clipped the crossbar on its way over.
One for the fans
It has proven to be a tough return to Teesside for Bamford after he made a move back to the club where he forged his name a permanent one, but gave something for the fans to smile about as he managed to half the scoreline.
It was all down to the work of Viktor Fischer as he whipped in an excellent corner into the near post, Bamford didn't even need to jump as he guided it with his head past Fraser Forster.
The final chance of the Premier League season at the Riverside rightfully fell to the home side, defender Calum Chambers had a decent effort from the edge of the area but Forster saw it all the way as he palmed it away from danger.