|MIDDLESBROUGH 0 CITY 2
FA Barclays Premiership
17th March 2007
Scorers Distin(61), Mpenza(74)
City Isaksson, Distin, Dunne, Sun, Richards, Barton, Hamann, Johnson, Ball, Vassell, Mpenza – Subs Dabo(unused), Beasley(84), Weaver(unused), Samaras(22), Corradi(unused)
Middlesbrough Shwarzer, Parnaby, Xavier, Pogatetz, Taylor, Cattermole, Boateng, Euell, Doening, Lee, Yakubu- subs Davis(9), Viduka(63), Morrison(45), Jones(unused), Rochemback(unused)
WHAT THE PRESS SAID
CITY MAKE EMILE OF IT
Under pressure Stuart Pearce was thrown a crucial lifeline as struggling City grabbed their first win on Teesside for 30 years. Second half goals from Sylvain Distin and Emile Mpenza ended the visitors losing run of five successive Premiership defeats and ensured Pearce will keep his job for at least another week.
A delighted Pearce, whose name was sung throughout the game by the visiting fans. saluted his side‘s fighting spirit. Pearce said: “I always expect a response from my team and I got one today. We deserved to win. just as we deserved something from Chelsea on Wednesday. It gives us a lift. It has been a tough week for the players emotionally and physically. Not for me. It has been the same as normal for me. Every week is tough as a manager”.
The Boro boss said “I’ve got to take the responsibility because I made a couple of changes. Maybe that sent out the wrong message. But it was a difficult position for us. “But don’t blame the players. It was my decision to make the changes and I take any blame that is going. We had an eye on Monday’s Cup game and we looked Like a team that was trying to win without over-extending ourselves. We are not good enough to do that”.
“We just never got going and we simply didn’t look up for it. We made Manchester City look better than they were. because we never put them under an real pressure. It was a bad day at the office. I might be a complete idiot but I believe we can go to Manchester United and win, We have the big game players to do that.”
The omens weren’t good for City as they went into the match without a win on Teesside since a 2-0 success way back in December 1977. And City almost fell behind in the first three minutes when a left-wing cross from Stewart Downing almost picked out Dong Gook Lee for his fist Boro goal. but Distin saved the day for the visitors with a desperate clearing header.
Boro suffered a massive blow almost immediately when Emanuel Pogatetz was stretchered off after collapsing in a heap with no other player near him. Pogatetz was taken to hospital for an X-ray on nerve damage to his knee. Andrew Davies was sent on as his replacement and Southgate admitted that Pogatetz is now a doubt for tomorrow’s big game.
But there was also misfortune early on for City with Micah Richards limping off after 22 minutes to be replaced by Gerogios Samamas.
A flat, featureless first half produced virtually no clear-cut chances with Emile Mpenza heading miserably wide from one of the visitors rare attacks The disharmony in the City camp had been underlined by a pre-match spat between former skipper Distin and current captain Richard Dunne. Distin blasted Dunne for his criticism of the Sky Blues’ foreign players. Dunne had pointed the finger of blame at the imports for City’s slump. which has left them looking nervously over their shoulder at the bottom three.
But Distin shook off the row to become City`s hero in the 61st minute, A right wing corner from the impressive Joey Barton was headed indecisively by Abel Xavier to allow Mpenza to head the ball into the box. Distin had stormed purposefully forward, and lashed the ball high into the net from six yards for his second goal of the season
And City completed their smash and grab raid on 74 minutes when Barton robbed Lee Cattermole to play in Mpenza with a precision pass. The Belgian international. kept his head to score with a cool finish, his first goal for City. It was no more than City deserved for a gutsy, workmanlike display.
BRIAN MCNALLY WRITING FOR THE SUNDAY MIRROR
EMILE MPENZA SEALS THE WIN