Manchester City 1 Middlesbrough 0

Last updated : 07 February 2009 By Footymad Previewer
Shay Given was handed his Manchester City debut in a team containing their January acquisitions Wayne Bridge, Nigel de Jong and Craig Bellamy, with the latter scoring the winner over a lacklustre Middlesbrough side.

The visitors might have broken their Premier League scoring drought which extended to over 400 minutes by the end of the game at Eastlands had Afonso Alves taken any of the hatful of chances laid on for him later in the game as Boro looked to up the tempo of a game which was largely controlled by a disclplined City side.

While Alves might have been profligate, his strike partner Marlon King was simply anonymous, while City's attacking players carved out chances of their own with Bellamy a particular thorn in the side with his physical style of play ruffling feathers in the Boro defence.

Bellamy may have failed to connect with Stephen Ireland's 40th minute cross which rolled across the face of goal inviting a simple tap-in, but he made no mistake in the second half with a more difficult goal.

Ireland had already struck the bar with a well-weighted header a minute earlier when Bridge's cross fell nicely for him on the edge of the area, but the tide was already slowly turning City's way as the game progressed.

In the 52nd minute, Bellamy received a great ball from de Jong on the edge of the penalty area and quickly turned Emanuel Pogatetz before rifling a precision shot past Brad Jones in the Boro goal.

The Welshman's goal proved to be the difference between the sides and a a just reward for City's early domination of the game with a patient, if perhaps slow build up that produced few openings of note.

Middlesbrough played like a side that had not scored in 315 minutes of Premier League football prior to this game and it was not entirely unexpected that they went home empty handed.

Given was easily City's best player on the day with the former Newcastle United keeper used to playing behind a leaky defence in recent years.

But on their day, City's forward players will have a much more solid base to build from in future.