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.
Given — 10. The Irish keeper was the crucial difference between the teams. We could easily have lost without his professionalism and quality. He won the game for us with a string of saves in one-on-one situations. Boro kept producing chances for Alves — but Given was so composed and resilient that he never looked like conceding a goal. On this display he must be worth an extra 15 points per season.
Ball watching instead of moving, nearly got caught out several times.
– Buzz Lightyear
A bit dodgy at times, but lets not forget this is a new partnership at the back, but allowed Boro through on several occasions
– Buzz Lightyear
Looks good prospect but lacks height to be a proper CB. I think his position is a RB. 6
Improved performance but still fail to see much of the attacking side today. 6/10
DE JONG 6
Still short of match fitness for me but seems to be getting there, settling in nicely. good performance.
– Buzz lightyear
Ireland, Zabaleta, Bellamy — 7 — all worked hard for 90 minutes and played really good games for the team.
Ireland, you really are the Irish Pele. Everything good came from him. 8
WRIGHT- PHILLIPS 7
caused a lot of problems, more on the left when he swapped over in the 2nd half, but always a handful and always helps out in defence.
– Buzz Lightyear
Closed down at every opportunity by Boro, but when let loose his finishing was poor, I think that is down to trying a little too hard.
– Buzz Lightyear
See Star Rating.
He should play simple as. Everytime he got the ball when coming on he kept it. Not the tallest target men, but his strength is a good asset. 6
Mark Hughes 10. He has found the formation and players to play to our strengths. Experimentation and chopping and changing seems to have gone and we look far more solid. Given time to gel, this team can only get better.
Had a good game, kept it flowing as much as he could, no major mistakes
Thank you to everyone who left their opinions in the City chat forum. Great game, solid 3 points, bring on Portsmouth!!