Ross Stewart's post-match Middlesbrough verdict Sunderland fans will love after penalty and Dael Fry red card

Ross Stewart says he’s really enjoying his football at Sunderland following their 2-0 win over Middlesbrough – with a play-off spot up for grabs.

The Black Cats moved to within a point of the Championship’s top six after Stewart netted his tenth league goal in 13 league games this season.

Stewart, 26, has 18 months left on his Sunderland contract and attracted interest from elsewhere following his impressive performances on Wearside.

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Yet, after returning to action following a lengthy thigh issue, the forward has continued his fine form – with support from Sunderland team-mates such as Jack Clarke, Patrick Roberts and Amad.

Ross Stewart celebrates after scoring against Middlesbrough. Picture by FRANK REID

“I’m really enjoying my football and I think when you have quality players like Amad, Patrick and Jack playing behind you it makes my life easier,” Stewart told Sky Sports after the Middlesbrough game. “I’ve just got to try and get in the areas.

“I was a bit frustrated today maybe to not get one or two more but the most important thing was to get to win and when you are winning games of football you are going to be enjoying it.

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“We have a really talented squad, a really young squad as well. I see it every day in training, the quality players who are playing behind me and are going to create chances in this league.

“You saw today, I thought we were excellent and created a lot of chances against a really good team. If we keep doing that we have the players to put the ball in the net as well and it’s a recipe to do well.”

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Stewart’s opener came after he was brought down by Middlesbrough defender Dael Fry, which resulted in a red card for the centre-back and a Sunderland penalty.

The initial spot kick was saved by goalkeeper Zach Steffen, yet Stewart was able to convert the rebound from close range - giving his side a significant advantage.

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Still, there was some debate whether Fry made contact with the striker in or outside the penalty area.

“I was running through on goal and the defender pulls me down,” replied Stewart when asked about the incident. “Whether it was in or outside the box I’ve not seen it back but you are at risk of giving away a penalty.

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“It was good for us and obviously I was able to step up and score second time around.

“The keeper has made a really good save and it’s one of them. I've had a bit of luck and it’s fallen to me but you’ll take them all day to get the goal. On top of the red card it set us up for a great win.”

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Asked about Sunderland’s play-off chances and tightness of the Championship table, Stewart added: “It’s been close all year and is kind of up for grabs with the play-off spots.

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“It was a big win, Middlesbrough had been flying so it was a great win and gets us back in the mix.

“We’ve just got to take it game by game and it was a big win for us.”