By Steve Sutcliffe | In Match Reports - Away Games
Manchester City slipped to defeat on a chilly night on Teeside as an Alfonso Alves’ penalty paved the way for a Middlesbrough victory.
City who were keen to avenge last season’s heavy defeat at the Riverside had looked the more likely to make the breakthrough with Stephen Ireland and Shaun Wright-Phillips both going close.
But the home side took the lead when a coming together of Daniel Sturridge and David Wheater resulted in a disputed spot kick for the home side that Alves converted.
City pressed for an equaliser but Gary O’Neil’s counter attack goal in injury time sealed Boro’s win.
City for the second successive away started brightly game with Robinho testing Boro keeper Ross Turnbull with a low shot from the edge of the box but as the first half progressed Boro gradually established a foothold and Alves almost converted a Stewart Downing’s deflected cross.
With City’s slick passsing game being cancelled out by the energy and enthusiasm of Gareth Southgate’s men the first half remained at stalemate.
City emerged quickly from the traps after the break and immediately found a cutting edge to the pretty passing of the first period. The impressive Ireland had their first opportunity when he burst into the box but his shot was pushed away by Turnbull and the bouncing ball eluded Elano.
Turnbull then came to Boro’s rescue again just moments later. Sturridge cleverly back-heeled into Wright-Phillips path but the diminutive winger’s effort was blocked by the keeper’s leg.
But just as City looked like they were on the verge of a breakthrough a contentious decision by referee Lee Mason saw Boro take the lead on the 53rd minute.
Sturridge and Wheater tangled on the right-hand edge of the City box challenging for the ball and the Boro man’s fall left referee Mason pointing to the spot although replays suggest there had been minimal contact and that any infringement had actually occurred outside the box.
Alves took full advantage and calmly converted his penalty leaving City undeservedly chasing the game. The Blues pushed forward but attack after attack was met by a firm Boro rearguard action with City’s Vincent Kompany going closest with an effort that Turnbull pushed away Sturridge firing wildly wide from the rebound.
The closing stages followed the same pattern with City throwing caution to the wind in a desperate attempt to find an equaliser however their hopes were extinguished when
Gary O’Neil latched onto a mistake by Robinho to gallop down the right and, after his cross was blocked by Nedum Onuoha, the former Pompey man cut in to fire the loose ball high into the roof of the net. Game, Set and Match Boro.
Middlesbrough: Turnbull, Wheater, Riggott, Pogatetz, Taylor, Aliadiere, O’Neil, Digard (Arca 75), Downing (Adam Johnson 83), Sanli, Alves.
Subs Not Used: Jones, Emnes, John Johnson, Grounds, Walker.
Goals: Alves 53 pen, O’Neil 90.
Man City: Hart, Ben-Haim, Richards, Dunne, Onuoha, Kompany, Wright-Phillips, Ireland, Elano (Fernandes 67), Robinho, Sturridge (Evans 77).
Subs Not Used: Schmeichel, Jo, Garrido, Hamann, Berti.
Booked: Kompany, Ireland, Robinho.
Ref: Lee Mason (Lancashire).