Boro floor Man City in FA Cup shocker
MANCHESTER CITY 0
(Patrick Bamford 53, Garcia Kike 90+3)
What temerity, what guts, what a performance.
Championship side Middlesbrough did the unthinkable in the den of the English Premier League champions.
In an FA Cup fourth-round tie at the Etihad Stadium this morning (Singapore time), they dished out a 2-0 humiliation through goals by Patrick Bamford and Garcia Kike to knock Manchester City out of the competition.
At the final whistle, an air of disbelief permeated around the ground, replacing the aura of invincibility that has gained a foothold there in recent years.
The mighty have fallen.
No one could have seen this coming.
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini would not have been faulted for taking it easy against the second-tier team.
Perhaps alarmed by Manchester United's unexpected draw with minnows Cambridge United just a day prior to their game, the Chilean actually fielded a strong side to eliminate the possibility of a similar embarrassment.
Goalkeeper Wilfredo Caballero and defender Dedryck Boyata were the only two less-familiar names in the starting 11. The likes of Vincent Kompany, David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Pablo Zabaleta took to the field in a show of intent.
But reputations are no substitute for desire.
If Middlesbrough enjoyed their fair share of luck during the 90 minutes, they earned it.
City were relentless from the start, as one would expect.
Middlesbrough were on the backfoot straightaway as the home side searched for the opening goal to kill off whatever ambition the visitors harboured.
With Aguero leading the attack and Silva, Stevan Jovetic, Jesus Navas and James Milner always lurking near him, the hosts carved out plenty of chances.
But the goal never came.
Middlesbrough goalkeeper Tomas Mejias put in a shift that he will have to re-tell over and over again.
On another day, Silva and Jovetic would have found themselves on the scoresheet, but the Spanish custodian just couldn't be beaten.
Middlesbrough, who had a goal disallowed in the 19th minute for offside, kept their focus throughout.
Then came their break.
Bamford took advantage of a poor defensive error by Fernando to give his side a shock lead in the 53rd minute.
Pellegrini responded by pouring men forward.
But just the first half, they couldn't take the many chances that came their way.
The closest they came to finding the equaliser was when substitute Frank Lampard's deflected shot came back off the inside of the post.
Middlesbrough remained a huge threat on the break.
An excellent pirouette by Lee Tomlin just after the hour fooled the entire City rearguard, but his shot came back off the woodwork.
In injury time, Aitor Karanka's men hammered the final nail in the coffin.
Kike struck the blow that killed off the game and pummelled some very big egos.
Seven years ago, Middlesbrough handed out an 8-1 thrashing to City in what was to prove Sven-Goran Eriksson's final game in charge of the Citizens.
This may be an even more humbling experience.
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