City were denied a deserved win by an added time Middlesbrough. ll head back to Teesside pleased with their efforts - though it was further proof that Boro are something of a jinx team for the Blues. Here's how the game panned out...
What happened…? As expected, Middlesbrough came to defend and frustrate, regularly camping ten men in and around their own box – not making for a particularly entertaining spectacle. The only clear chance of the opening period fell to David Silva whose close range effort was saved by Victor Valdes. The whole half was pretty much attack versus defence as the visitors dug in deep, hoping that when their massed ranks were breached, Valdes would repel anything that came his way. Then, moments before half-time, the breakthrough – Kevin De Bruyne picked a pearl of a pass, curling a low ball into the six-yard box for Aguero to guide home his 150th City goal. Jesus Navas almost doubled the lead with the last kick of the half, firing a fierce drive onto the post with Valdes beaten. It meant Boro would need to show a little more attacking intent than they had thus far if they were to have any chance of getting back on level terms and within a few minutes of the restart, Alvaro Negredo almost scored with an audacious 50-yard chip that a backpedalling Claudio Bravo scrambled over the bar. Then, moments later, Adama Traore put Adam Forshaw clear in the box but he was denied by an excellent Bravo save – clearly Aitor Karanka’s Plan B was proving more effective that Plan A! City looked a tad tired as the game progressed – completely understandable after the midweek exertions – but the slender lead meant there was no room for error. Aguero missed the chance to seal the points with a shot from eight yards that dipped over the bar and it would prove a costly miss. Though there had been little threat from the visitors since the brief flourish after the break, the cruellest of sucker punches came in added time when Marten de Roon powered home a header from close range. It may have been undeserved, but it was further evidence that if you don’t take your chances in this league, you get punished and this was a precious two points dropped by the Blues.
Key moment For City it came in the 77th-minute and may not have been a spectacular pass, goal or save, but John Stones’ outstretched leg and merest touch of the ball as it the Middlesbrough player lined up to side-foot home from 10 yards that looked to have denied Boro a point – but de Roon’s header eclipsed Stones’ hard work.
Man of the match Sergio Aguero – not many stellar performances today – more just steady than spectacular. With that in mind, goal-scorer Sergio Aguero takes the honours.
What it means Two points dropped, City could and probably will slip off top spot going into the break – not what the doctor ordered and a disappointing easy to end the week.
What’s up next for the Blues? International break means it’s a couple of weeks before we resume action against Crystal Palace.
Manchester City (1): Bravo, Zabaleta,Kolarov, Stones, Clichy, Gündogan (Nolito 74’), Fernandinho, Silva, De Bruyne, Navas (Garcia 86’), Agüero (Iheanacho 90’)