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Page last updated at 14:39 GMT, Saturday, 7 February 2009

Man City 1-0 Middlesbrough

By Nabil Hassan

Shay Given
Given produced a number of fine saves to deny Middlesbrough

Craig Bellamy's goal sealed victory for Manchester City and piled more pressure on Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate.

The Welshman found space on the edge of Boro's area before firing a low left-foot shot into the corner of the net on 50 minutes from 18-yards out.

Midfielder Stephen Ireland also headed against the crossbar for the home side.

But City had debutant keeper Shay Given to thank for their win, with the outstanding Irishman denying Afonso Alves on four occasions.

Southgate's side remain joint bottom of the Premier League table and it is clear where their troubles lie.

Without a goal in 405 Premier League minutes, they have also failed to win in 13 games.

The visitors did however produce enough first-half chances to go in at the break with a lead.

"We defended well as a group" - Given

But a combination or poor finishing and excellent goalkeeping denied the visitors.

City manager Mark Hughes handed keeper Given his debut following his January transfer from Newcastle.

And he produced a first-half masterclass denying Alves three times, one of which was a superb reaction save from point-blank range.

It was City who started the better, with Brad Jones saving well at the feet of Bellamy following Ireland's defence-splitting pass inside two minutes.

A period of relative inactivity followed before the game sparked into life on the half-hour.


Boro winger Adam Johnson found space on City's right flank and found Alves, who from six yards out saw his low shot superbly kept out by Given.

Minutes later, Shaun Wright-Phillips's 18-yard shot was deflected into the path of Bellamy, who like Alves earlier, saw his effort well kept out by Jones.

Alves then tested the Given with an 18-yard swerving shot that turned at the last minute, but the keeper reacted well to keep it out.

Ireland, who was easily City's most consistent player, then headed Wayne Bridge's cross against the bar before Given produced yet more heroics saving at the feet of Alves.

Craig Bellamy
Bellamy was a constant threat in the Man City attack

It took until the 50th minute for the deadlock to be broken and it came from the lively Bellamy.

The striker found space on the edge of the area before unleashing a fierce effort that Jones had no chance of keeping out.

Alves was then denied for a fourth time by Given, with the Irishman diving full stretch to keep out the Brazilian's 20-yard driven shot.

It was Middlesbrough's last meaningful effort of the game with City holding on for the victory despite a late penalty appeal.

Southgate must now hope he is given time to turns things around at the relegation threatened club who have the relief of an FA Cup visit to West Ham next weekend.

Manchester City manager Mark Hughes: "Shay Given at times had to produce what he is capable of. I'm delighted with the way he has been able to come in and hit the ground running.

Hughes applauds Given debut

"If you look at our back four, it's quite light in terms of Premier League experience and that's one of the main reasons I brought Shay in. We benefited from his experience.

"I think on the balance of play we deserved to win. We created good chances and took the one that won us the game."

Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate:
"We made probably one error as a team defensively and we've been punished for it.

We need to start taking chances - Southgate

"We need to take our chances - it's as simple as that. We created chances and would have hoped to have scored at least one of them.

"Even after going a goal behind there was no sign of anyone throwing the towel in. No-one is hiding. We played well and their goalkeeper played very well, and that's what got them the points."

Man City: Given, Richards, Onuoha, Kompany, Bridge, Zabaleta, De Jong, Ireland, Wright-Phillips, Bellamy, Robinho (Caicedo 83).
Subs Not Used: Hart, Elano, Vassell, Garrido, Fernandes, Evans.

Goals: Bellamy 51.

Middlesbrough: Jones, Wheater, Riggott (Hoyte 68), Huth, Pogatetz, Adam Johnson (Sanli 74), Bates, Digard (O'Neil 60), Downing, Alves, King.
Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Emnes, Shawky, Arca.

Booked: O'Neil.

Att: 40,588

Ref: A Mariner (Coventry).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Manchester City's Shay Given 8.53 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
Premier League as it happened
07 Feb 09 |  Premier League
Saturday's football photos
07 Feb 09 |  Football
Given completes Man City transfer
01 Feb 09 |  Man City

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