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Sunday, 22 September, 2002, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
Bruce defends Savage
Middlesbrough's Alen Boksic is sent tumbling
Boksic's finishing was uncharacteristically poor
Birmingham boss Steve Bruce believes midfielder Robbie Savage is being unfairly treated by officials.

Savage was one of seven players booked by referee Andy D'Urso during Birmingham's 1-0 defeat at Middlesbrough on Saturday.

But the midfielder escaped further punishment despite reacting furiously to Massimo Maccarone's trip in the Birmingham box.

However, Bruce says Savage is paying for his reputation.

"I think people have got to leave Robbie Savage alone. He gets booked for virtually anything," he said.

"Then there's a terrible tackle five minutes later and the ref doesn't do anything.

"The crowd gets on his back which gets him up as well. He gets frustrated because he gets booked for the slightest little thing."


Savage is wholehearted and he's going to go out and compete - that's him
Steve Bruce

Although Savage was unlucky to be cautioned for a challenge on Geremi, his over-the-top reaction to challenges left him on the brink of a red card.

Boro boss Steve McClaren claimed he had not seen Savage's tangle with Maccarone but joined Bruce in criticising D'Urso's performance.

He said: "I didn't see it but it was probably just one of a few things that were niggly.

"There were a lot of things that the referee made a big fuss off instead of getting the ball down and just letting them play football."

Boro's French defender Franck Queudrue clinched the points with his rocketing 25-yard set-piece.

And Alen Boksic should have sealed the game but was guilty of missing two clear chances.

McClaren said: "The game should have been out of sight but at 1-0 you're never safe and credit to Birmingham, they kept going and we had to defend for our lives."


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