Date:Saturday February 7 2009
Attendance: 40, 558
Craig Bellamy`s second goal for Manchester City ensured City picked up the three points after a very impressive debut for City Keeper Shay Given.
City started brightly as Bellamy burst down the left and fired the ball into the box but the cross was cut out before connecting with either Shaun Wright-Phillips or Ireland. Straight after Digard`s cross ball was picked up by Ireland who played Bellamy through, but Brad Jones managed to intervene and extinguish the danger.
Man City then managed to force a couple of corners with only ten minutes gone. Neat control and turn from Vincent Kompany saw his shot fire just wide. Robinho then got himself into a dangerous position moments later but as he cut inside the defender his attempted shot kicked the air and not the ball and the attack was cleared by an impressive Boro defence.
Middlesbrough did get a shot away on 19 minutes when Johnson shot over the bar. Shaun Wright-Phillips then went close shortly after. He drifted in from the right before firing from around 20 yards out, but a deflection took it out for another City corner.
Shay must have been thinking this is going to be the easiest first game of his life, but he was called into action around half and hour into his debut. City were caught napping and a cross from the right found Alves free in the box, but his shot brought a fantastic save from Given who managed to somehow block a powerful shot from only yards away.
This kicked City back into life, and within two minutes it was Boro`s keeper who was making the great saves. From City`s sixth corner, Wright-Phillips managed to work a shot but through deflections and bobbles, the ball fell to Bellamy who managed to poke the ball towards goal but Jones got down well and made a superb save.
Shay and Alves were having a good old battle and yet again Given came out on top in the 38th minute. Alves snap-shot curled and changed direction in the air, and credit to Given who managed to stick his right arm out and keep the ball out.
Shay`s save managed to spurt City into life again and they went very close to scoring twice. First Ireland managed to connect his flying header with a cross from the left, but his header smacked against the cross-bar! Then from the other side Ireland found the ball again and managed to get to the by-line and fired the ball across the goal line but Bellamy somehow failed to connect and the chance went begging.
Round three of the battle against Given and Alves came to play just before the halftime whistle. Alves was through on goal but his shot was saved by Shay`s right boot.
Halftime: Manchester City 0 Middlesbrough 0
The second half started quietly with both teams trying to keep the ball, but it didn`t take long for City to finally get the goal that their first half performance deserved. Nigel De Jong went on the attack and found Ireland who passed it right to Bellamy who cut it on to his left foot and drilled the ball through the legs of a Middlesbrough player and past the ever impressive Brad Jones. Craig looks to be a fantastic signing for us.
Robinho could then have made it two about 10 minutes later. Great play by Bellamy and Wright-Phillips produced a ball being played through to the Brazilian, who should have scored but instead tried to take the ball around the keeper and the chance was gone. Boro then went on the counter and they should have scored when Kompany unlike him, made a mistake which mean Alves was through on goal, but his shot yet again was saved by Given who is playing world-class when called upon.
The first yellow card was distributed on the 80th minute when Boro sub, O`Neil took Wright-Phillips out. Caicedo was the brought on to replace Robinho as City looked to keep the ball at every occasion. City kept the ball in their half and where 60 seconds from normal time when a cross from Middlesbrough looked to have hit Bridge square on his arm, but the ref weren`t feeling it, and Bridge got away with it.
City kept the ball in the corners of Middlesbrough`s half as City played out the win.
Fulltime: Manchester City 1 Middlesbrough 0.
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Date:Saturday February 7 2009
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