Barclay’s English Premiership
Wednesday 29 October 2008, 20:00 KO
City: Hart, Onuoha, Dunne (c), Ben-Haim, Richards, Kompany, Ireland, Wright-Phillips, Elano (Gelson 67), Robinho, Sturridge (Evans 77)
Unused: Schmeichel, Garrido, Hamann, Berti, Jo
Booked: Kompany, Ireland
City Man of the Match: Shaun Wright-Phillips
The game began brightly with a Middlesbrough shout for a penalty waved away by referee Lee Mason, after the ball looked to have hit Richards on the arm from a free kick. City immediately went down the other end and looked to break the deadlock, but Robinho’s curling effort was well wide.
With eight minutes gone, Ireland stole the ball from Digard and played it to Robinho, who forced a good save from Turnbull, setting the agenda for the evening.
And on ten minutes, a Stuart Downing cross deflected of Nedum Onuoha and landed for Afonso Alves, but the Middlesbrough forward could only direct his header straight at Joe Hart in the City goal.
Alves was denied by a superb last ditch tackle from Onuoha, before City had the chance to go in front, but the chance was spurned by Wright-Phillips. Seconds later, an excellent run by Richards ended with a driven shot straight at Turnbull.
A strong challenge by skipper Dunne on Alves, with City’s keeper bearing down on the forward, resulted in the away side’s captain needing treatment after a collision with Joe Hart. Tuncay then fired a volley well wide of the goal, before City went back on the attack.
Sturridge then missed a good chance, hitting his shot straight at Turnbull, before Alves was unable to connect to a cross after climbing above Onuoha.
The first action of the second half saw a Ben-Haim clearance fall straight to Ireland, whose shot looked destined to break the deadlock, before Turnbull saved again. The Middlesbrough keeper was then able to catch Elano’s rebound easily.
The home side had their keeper to thank once again shortly after, when Sturridge back-heeled excellently for Shaun Wright-Phillips, but the little winger’s first time effort was blocked by the feet of Turnbull.
Middlesbrough then broke and got themselves a controversial penalty, as Wheater went down under a definite foul from Sturridge. The referee pointed to the spot, despite replays suggesting the foul was committed outside the area, and Alves sent Hart the wrong way to make it 1-0.
City almost hit back immediately, with a Ben-Haim shot that forced Ross Turnbull into another save on 58 minutes, before Tuncay was unable to get a snap shot on target at the other end.
The away side were now chasing the game and, with 19 minutes to go, were piling on the pressure, but Sturridge missed a good chance after Turnbull saved from a Kompany drive from range and the youngster went with his left foot when the rebound fell to his right, putting it well wide.
The home side were hanging on, but their defence was solid, as City tried and failed to grab an equaliser. And then came the sucker punch for the travelling fans, as Middlesbrough hit City on the break. Gary O’Neil found Tuncay, whose snapshot rebounded off Hart and back to O’Neil to slot home.
It was the first time City have failed to score in the Premiership this season and it was another disappointing away performance from City. It looks like the roller-coaster is set to continue for this season, as City slump to a defeat in a game that they should have won.