Sunday 30 April 2017, 14.05, Riverside Stadium

Premier League action between Middlesbrough and Manchester City.

Middlesbrough were formed in 1876 and began as an amateur club, winning the FA Amateur Cup in 1895 and 1898.  They turned professional in 1899 and were promoted to the First Division in 1902.

After making their home Ayresome Park in 1903, moving from Linthorpe Road, they spent the vast majority of the first half of the twentieth century in the top division.  They were in the second tier for four seasons, in two spells up until 1954 when they were relegated again.

Relegation this time was to be a more lengthy affair, with further demotion in 1966 to the third tier.   Fortunately for Boro, that was only a one season stay and in 1974, they got back into the top flight.    The following season saw them attain their first silverware, with an Anglo-Scottish Cup triumph.

Boro dropped into the second tier again in 1982 and this was followed by major financial difficulties.  1986 saw another relegation and shortly afterwards the club was wound up and the gates to Ayresome Park were padlocked.  Board member Steve Gibson brought together a consortium, and with ten minutes to spare before the deadline they completed their registration with the Football League for the 1986–87 season.

Consecutive promotions had them back in the top tier and a bit of a yo-yo period emerged.  They were relegated to the second tier (by now the Championship) in 1993 and 1997, whilst getting into the top tier in 1995 and 1998.

When promoted in 1995, Middlesbrough had made some high profile additions to their squad, including  Juninho and Fabrizio Ravanelli.   A brand new stadium in Middlesbrough called The Riverside also made its debut.  When they were relegated in the 1996-97 season, it came as a bit of a shock, with a three point deduction not helping their case.  They did, however, reach the finals of the  League and FA Cup finals for the first time, but lost out in both. Despite being in the second tier, they were again runners up in the League Cup final again the next year.

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The promotion in 1998 was much more successful and they were able to maintain their place in the Premiership for a longer term.  Season 2003-04 saw them finally win a major trophy after winning the League Cup.  This also gave them a place in European football for the first time.

They reached the final of the UEFA Cup in 2006, but lost out to Sevilla.

It looked like the glory years were just around the corner, but relegation came again in 2009.

A losing play-off final appearance in 2015 was followed up by a second placed finish last season which brought them back to the top league for this season.

It hadn’t been an easy season for Boro and manager Steve Agnew had four games left to try and secure their top-flight status.  A midweek win over Sunderland left them six points from safety, but they had a daunting fixture list left, with Chelsea and Liverpool still to come.

Boro were missing Victor Valdes, Grant Leadbitter and Daniel Ayala through injury.

Manchester City were originally formed in 1880 as St. Mark’s (West Gorton), they became Ardwick Association Football Club in 1887 and Manchester City in 1894.

Promotion to the top league came in 1899 and they won their first major honour in 1904, winning the FA Cup, a season in which they were also runners-up in the league.

Financial irregularities led to 17 players being suspended in 1906, then worse was to follow, when a fire at their ground at Hyde Road destroyed the main stand in 1920.  A purpose built stadium was put together and City moved into Maine Road in 1923.

Things improved considerably in the following decades, with cup final appearances in 1933, 1934, 1955 and 1956, with ’34 and ’56 seeing them victorious.  They also won the top league for the first time in 1937.

The sixties began badly, with relegation in 1963.  They regained their place in the top division in 1966 and then two years later, one the league championship for the second time.  The decade ended with the FA Cup being won in 1969 and a year later, they won the European Cup Winners’ Cup and League Cup.

City continued to feature near the top of the table throughout the ‘70s, but the only further trophy added was the League Cup in 1976.  Their fans would be quick to point out that they beat their city rivals Manchester United on the last day of season 1973-74 to send them down, with former United legend scoring the only goal with a back heeled effort.

They lost the 1981 FA Cup final in a replay, but the decline had started to set in and they were twice relegated from the top flight in the ‘80s, spending four seasons in the second tier.

Two fifth place finishes at the start of the ‘90s were a false dawn and after several seasons struggling they were relegated in 1996.  Two seasons later and they dropped even further, to the third tier.  A dramatic play-off win saw them return at the first opportunity in 1999 and then a second successive promotion saw them back in the top division.

Their return lasted only one season before relegation again.  They returned right away again and this time they were far better equipped for an assault on the top league.  The close season in 2003 saw City move to the City of Manchester Stadium as mid table finishes became the norm.

In August 2008, things would change forever as the club was bought by Abu Dhabi United Group and suddenly City were bidding for high priced players, with Brazilian International Robinho from Real Madrid their first box office capture.

It took until 2011 for the major outlays to properly pay dividends with the 2011 FA Cup and Champions League football secured.  They have gone on to win the league title in 2012 and 2014, the former in spectacular fashion with two injury time goals in the final game of the season.  The 2014 win was accompanied by another League Cup win.  Last season saw City win the League Cup for the fourth time.

With former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola in place, it’s been a bit of a disappointing season for City.  With no chance of a trophy, their season rested on qualifying for the Champions League, which still required work.

City were without goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, David Silva, John Stones and Ilkay Gündogan.

Two sides with contrasting fortunes faced off with both needing maximum points for very different reasons.

There were 29,763 at the game.

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City came up the park straight from kick off and some good interplay ended with Clichy working the ball to Aguero who burst into the box and squared it for Gabriel Jesus, but he couldn’t make a decent connection and the ball went wide.

Aguero featured again in 8 minutes when he cut inside a defender and curled a shot just over the bar.

Boro started to get a foothold in the game and were certainly seeing their fair share of possession.  They created their first real opportunity in 12 minutes when a corner was played to Negredo on the left and he hit a powerful drive from a difficult angle narrowly wide of the City goal.

The home side had the next chance in 15 minutes when Fabio passed to de Roon on the edge of the box, but he shot wide of goal.

Stuani picked up the first booking of the afternoon for  a foul on City’s De Bruyne in 16 minutes.

Kolarov had a long range effort in 21 minutes which was well off target, not the first time he had done this when picking out a team mate would have been the smarter move, and you could see the look Guardiola gave him from the bench.

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There were a number of fouls in the next few minutes which culminated in City’s Kompany receiving a yellow card for a foul on Negredo in 31 minutes.

Boro were in the ascendancy now, but a great cross from Otamendi into their box in 36 minutes picked out Gabriel Jesus, although he somehow headed wide from close range.

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Seconds later, Friend broke up a City attack and fed Downing on the left.  He crossed into the middle where Negredo reacted well and thumped a shot in off the post, despite slipping as he struck it, to put Boro in front.

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In 40 minutes, Negredo had another effort at the City goal, from outside the box, but this time it was off target.

Neither side were able to create any more chances before the whistle in a half which City had started well, before Boro came roaring back and the home side merited their half time lead.

Boro had the first effort at goal of the second period, when Negredo set up Downing for a shot from around 23 yards, but it was well off target.

With Boro starting the second half well, the City manager lost patience quickly and made a double change just after Downing’s effort.

It was the hosts who almost scored again in 51 minutes, when Forshaw set up Clayton, who saw his shot produce a diving save from Caballero.

A minute later, Fernandinho found City sub Sterling who went past two defenders before seeing his well struck shot blocked.

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Forshaw was the next Boro player booked for a foul on Sane in 54 minutes.

City were starting to put the pressure on and Guzan held a De Bruyne shot from the edge of the box in 56 minutes after Fernandinho had set him up.

Sterling had a shot blocked in 58 minutes after being played in by Jesus Navas before Sane found De Bruyne in 63 minutes, but he also had his effort blocked.

With 68 minutes gone, Sane chased a ball in the Boro box that De Roon looked to shepherd behind goal.  Sane looked to make contact with the defender and went down.  Incredibly, the referee pointed to the spot.  There was a lot of complaining, accusations and pushing.  Boro’s Fabio and De Roon and City’s Sane were all yellow carded.

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Despite the lengthy delay as the referee regained order, Aguero showed great composure to take an expert penalty and draw City level.

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City pressed forward looking to get the victory they needed, but Boro defended manfully, with blocks on two Aguero shots in the next few minutes.

Otamendi was booked for City for a foul on Traore in 76 minutes.  From the free kick, Downing’s powerful effort was parried by Caballero.  Negredo worked hard to prevent City clearing their lines and the ball fell to Chambers who tucked the ball past the keeper from about 6 yards to get Boro’s noses back in front.

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The home side had looked better when attacking and this time they didn’t go into their defensive shell after taking the lead, continuing to look for another goal.

Sterling was booked in 81 minutes for hauling down Clayton as Boro came forward.

De Roon had a shot at the City goal in 84 minutes after being set up by Gestede, but Caballero was well placed to save.

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City won a free kick in 85 minutes and the ball was played to Aguero. He chipped the ball into the box and Gabriel Jesus was unmarked and headed in the leveller.

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An acrobatic effort from Gestede with two minutes left for Boro gave the home side hope, but City were on the front foot again.

Otamendi nodded a De Bruyne cross wide in the first minute of injury time.

Worryingly for City, Aguero had to limp off in 92 minutes.

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Deep into injury time, Kompany struck a long-range effort towards the home goal, but it was wide.

The final whistle had both sides rueing the result and it didn’t really help the case of either side.

Boro had shown admirable fight and didn’t look like a side in relegation trouble.  Negredo was a bundle of energy up front and caused the City defence problems.

City’s remaining games are also against teams outwith the top end of the league and despite the dropped points in this game, would still be confident of a top four finish.  The injury to Aguero would have been a worry as he was City’s best player on the day.

A very entertaining game to watch.

Full Time: Middlesbrough 2 Manchester City 2

Admission: £35

Middlesbrough: 12 Brad Guzan, 2 Fabio Da Silva, 25 Calum Chambers, 6 Ben Gibson, 3 George Friend, 14 Marten de Roon, 8 Adam Clayton, 34 Adam Forshaw, 18 Cristhian Stuani (Traoré 73), 10 Alvaro Negredo (Gestede 82), 19 Stewart Downing. Subs: 1 Dimitrios Konstantopoulos, 5 Espinosa Bernardo, 11 Viktor Fischer, 17 Antonio Barragán, 20 Patrick Bamford, 29 Rudy Gestede, 37 Adama Traoré.

Manchester City: 13 Willy Caballero, 30 Nicolas Otamendi, 4 Vincent Kompany, 11 Aleksandar Kolarov, 15 Jesús Navas, 25 Fernandinho, 75 Aleix García (Sané 49), 22 Gael Clichy (Sterling 49), 17 Kevin De Bruyne, 10 Sergio Agüero (Nolito 92), 33 Gabriel Jesus. Subs: 3 Bacary Sagna, 5 Pablo Zabaleta, 6 Fernando, 7 Raheem Sterling, 9 Nolito, 19 Leroy Sané, 54 Angus Gunn.

Referee: Kevin Friend

Programme: £3

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