Middlesborough 0 - 2 Manchester City
FA Cup Quarter Final
Saturday 11th March 2017
So it was with a great degree of trepidation that this Blue viewed the cup draw when it was made, and although we avoided Arsenal, United, and Chelsea, ‘Boro away typified a tough cup fixture.
Add to that, the fact that they had some previous as a bogey team, not to mention an embarrassing 8-1 defeat when Sven was the manager, in the last game of the season a few years ago, and throw in there for good measure, an early kick off, which we always seem to struggle with.
As if all of that wasn’t bad enough, ex-City boy Negredo, affectionately dubbed “The Beast” is his time at City, is in the ‘Boro team, and ex-players ALWAYS tend to come back and haunt us.
I definitely didn’t fancy it.
However, I was pleasantly surprised when in the wake of a disappointing midweek 0-0 draw at home to Stoke, Pep Guardiola announced a very strong starting XI, including a front line of Silva, Sane, Sterling, de Bruyne and Aguero.
The smile broadened on this fella’s countenance, when shortly after the kick off, a nice ball from Yaya Toure out to the right, found City stalwart Pablo Zabaleta, whose cross was pounced upon by David Silva, who volleyed in from close range.
3 mins : Boro 0-1 City.
So perhaps my negativity had been a bit premature?
But it’s the cup, and you cannay take anything for granted in the cup.
Particularly with this guy Adama Traore. The stocky Boro winger looks very tricky indeed, and could give the City defence a tough time.
Also with Bravo in goal, City fans can see that the defence is not as confident, as when Caballero starts in goal.
10 mins and a Leadbitter foul from behind on Aguero goes unpunished. The City striker hobbles away, unimpressed, and takes time to get going again.
20 mins A ‘Boro corner leads to a chance, which Bravo flaps at, and diverts into the path of Zabaleta, who clears off the line.
Yaya Toure is oozing class, controlling the midfield. After a crunching tackle between Stuani and Zabaleta, a hark back to the good old days of cup ties when players went in hard and fair, poor Gestede does his hamstring and has to go off injured, replaced by Negredo to a round of applause from the away fans.
28 mins After a foul by Leadbitter on Sterling goes unpunished, Fabio has a shot wide from outside the box, and ‘Boro look more of a threat going forward.
32 mins Some magic play by Silva creates enough space for a cross for Sterling, but Sane fluffs his shot from a yard or two out.
34 mins Sane takes on three defenders, bursting into the box, flicks the ball into the six-yard box, and a shot by Sterling is blocked by Gibson. Could be 3-0 City.
37 mins Header by Stuani saved by Bravo, after a cross from the right. A yard either side, and that was a goal. It was straight at him, but a good save nonetheless.
End to end chances.
38 mins City break on the counter, Sterling feeds Aguero, who delays the through ball and the attack ends with a deflected shot by Silva which is easily saved.
41 mins Free kick by KDB is headed wide by Yaya Toure.
City fans rue missed chances.
42 mins Sterling and Silva combine, Sane fires a low shot into the net. Goal disallowed for offside.
45 mins Another foul by Leadbitter, this time on de Bruyne, and ref Mike Dean finally produces a yellow card for the ‘Boro captain, who could have had three already.
45+2mins Traore becomes the third ‘Boro player to be booked after scything down Otamendi in a somewhat needless challenge.
Half Time : ‘Boro 0 – 1 City
New rules mean that there are no replays from the quarter-finals onwards, so we will have extra time and penalties today, if necessary. If extra time ensues, an additional change to the rules means the teams can field a fourth substitute.
48 mins Sterling slips in the box, losing his footing, instead of turning in a shot from a couple of yards out, and Silva blazes over the bar, the resulting opportunity.
Pep looks furious.
51 mins City break and KDB feeds Sterling, whose cross to Aguero results in a shot being tipped onto the post with his foot, by Brad Guzan.
Within a minute, Sane excites yet again. The ball breaks into the path of Zabaleta, whose shot is deflected wide by Leadbitter.
‘Boro seem frustrated and as if to underline that, replays show Stuani elbows Sterling in the face in what seemed like a blatant red card offence. Somehow the officials don’t spot it, and in fairness to the lad, he doesn’t make a meal out of it.
57 mins A good cross de Bruyne is fired over too quickly for Aguero, who seems to have shaked off the first half injury he was carrying, but still wasn’t quick enough to get on the end of that!
59 mins De Roon fouls Otamendi, ref Dean gives him a stern talking to, but seems to have taken a policy of leniency towards the persistent fouling.
61 mins Sane breaks into the box, has a shot blocked, resulting corner is cleared.
63 mins City attack again, Sane combines with Silva, whose shot is on target. Fine save low by Guzan, before he saves another shot from outside the box by Sane.
If this was a boxing match, it would be stopped!
66 mins Ramirez comes on for ‘Boro skipper Leadbitter.
67 mins Sane cross from left is fired in by Sergio Aguero. Eventually!
‘Boro 0-2 City.
City Wembley bound.
70 mins Nolito comes on for Sane, who has been outstanding yet again.
Ramirez gets into the box as ‘Boro break and Bravo comes out to clear the danger.
71 mins Sterling fires in a rebound from an Aguero shot to make it 3-0, but the goal is disallowed for offside. Replays show he was level. Great work by Aguero, who has recovered some hunger.
73 mins City fans in good voice, going through a repertoire of favourites, before the ‘Boro defence is sliced open again, this time Silva has a shot saved by Guzan, who has also been excellent.
74 mins Late challenge by Clayton on Sterling looks very nasty and dangerous.
‘Boro frustrated, City completely dominant.
76 mins Nolito feeds Silva who crosses for Aguero, cleared by the ‘Boro defence.
77 mins ‘Boro not finished - brilliant run by Traore down right results in cross for Negredo , whose header down is met by Fabio, whose shot is cleared off the line by Stones.
82 mins Yellow card as de Roon pulls back Yaya, who has been awesome in midfield.
85 mins Fernando comes on for big man Yaya Toure.
87 mins Kelechi comes on for Aguero.
91 mins Kelechi shot blocked.
Full time : ‘Boro 0 – 2 City.
Aguero with 4 goals in F.A. Cup this season.
Match stats : City had 18 attempts, 10 were on target, 69% possession away from home tells its own story, but the main thing will be no injuries to key players with next four fixtures being Monoco (away) Liverpool (home) Chelsea (away) and Arsenal (away).
F.A. Cup sponsors Emirates won’t have seen as strong a line up in years. On Monday night the draw for the semi-finals was made.
Manchester City v Arsenal
Chelsea v Spurs
As the sole representatives from outside London, I’m sure the rest of the U.K. , particularly United and Liverpool supporters, will be cheering on the Sky Blues. Right?
Carl J Ashley