Middlesbrough 0 Manchester City 0

Last updated : 31 December 2005 By Footymad Previewer
Middlesbrough kept their first clean sheet since August in the goalless draw against Manchester City but are dropping like a stone towards the relegation zone.

With just three points out of a possible 18, Boro need to regroup quickly and find a goal - and some form - from somewhere.

They were jeered off the Riverside pitch at the end as the Boro fans looked forward to New Year's Eve celebrations more than the team they were supporting.

Boro go to neighbours Newcastle United on Monday for a derby clash and the prospect of them coming away with three points are slim if they produce another performance like this.

Steve McClaren's side managed just one shot on target throughout the match which City dominated from start to finish.

There were three defining moments in the game. Referee Martin Atkinson from West Yorkshire should have given Boro a first-half penalty when Sylvain Distin hooked Mark Viduka's shooting foot as he was about to let fly.

As the referee waved play on Yakubu forced David James into his only save of the game with a close-range drive. There's no doubt Boro should have had the penalty, but Yakubu should also have put the chance away.

City's domination grew throughout the game and Mark Schwarzer produced a world-class save to deny Joey Barton. His diving header looked destined for the bottom corner until the Aussie international stretched to turn it round the post.

Mr Atkinson then missed Chris Riggott's clumsy challenge on Darius Vassell which could have ended with City being awarded a penalty.

Those key points aside, City never looked in any danger.

Antoine Sibierski ran the hosts ragged in the first half with long-range shots and far post headers which always posed a danger.

Boro, despite their defensive frailties, managed to survive thanks to Schwarzer. More than once he stood between City and a rout.

He had to race out of his goal twice to deny both Vassell and Andrew Cole.

Sibierski's hamstring injury led to him being substituted at half-time, but there was no respite for Boro as Nedum Onuoha took hold of the midfield.

The teenager belied his years as he bossed the game, having been removed from the heart of the defence where he had coped so admirably with the threat of Viduka and Yakubu.

Indeed he turned up on the right wing to drill a delightful low cross which was flicked goalwards by Cole but Schwarzer made another reaction save.

Onuoha's performance rightly earned him man of the match praise. His commitment was reflected in the determined challenge on Emanuel Pogatetz which unfortunately earned the teenager a booking on the stroke of half-time.

That didn't stop him, however, committing himself bravely to the City cause and he grew in confidence throughout.

City man of the match Nedum Onuoha grew in stature throughout the game. He dealt comfortably with the twin threat of Viduka and Yakubu in the first half and then stepped up a gear in the 2nd half to provide a clear scoring chance with a brilliant right wing cross.