Fowler hands Boro Uefa spot
By Graeme Bailey. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
Robbie Fowler missed a last minute penalty which cost Manchester City a place in next season's Uefa Cup as Middlesbrough claimed a 1-1 draw at The City of Manchester Stadium.
City had come back from a goal down after Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink's thunderbolt saw him register his 13th league goal of the season midway through the first half.
However, the home side were level within a minute of the second half kicking off as Kiki Musampa danced his way through the Boro defence before firing home.
Boro looked to have held on for the draw they needed, but City were then awarded a spot kick after Franck Queudrue was adjudged to have handled.
Fowler, though, could not find a way past Mark Schwarzer and Boro took seventh spot - their best ever Premiership finish - and the all important place in the Uefa Cup.
The home side were by far the quickest out of the blocks and, with new boss Stuart Pearce driving them on from the edge of the technical area, they dominated the early exchanges with Shaun Wright-Phillips beating Queudrue on more than one occasion.
City could have gone ahead with their first attack of the game when Musampa picked up Fowler's deflected shot and beat Stuart Parnaby with ease before drilling a cross into the six yard box which evaded everyone but Gareth Southgate who was thankful to see the deflection fly just wide.
City then created two gilt-edged opportunities, firstly Antoine Sibierski broke into the box but he elected to cross from the edge of the six-yard box instead of shooting and the chance was gone.
That was soon followed by a wonderful move which saw Wright-Phillips dance his way past a couple of challenges before playing a one-two with Fowler. The England winger found himself clear in the area with only Schwarzer to beat, which he did but fortunately for Boro he sent the ball just wide.
Boro's first effort of the game came on 20 minutes and it was a purely speculative one from Boudewijn Zenden, but that then heralded the away side's best passage of play as they managed to stay in City's half for more than 30 seconds and within moments they took a shock lead.
Doriva won a free kick 35 yards from goal, it was taken short to Hasselbaink who managed to coerce Fowler into fouling him. The Dutchman brushed himself down to take the kick and he unleashed an unstoppable drive past David James off the underside of the crossbar.
City continued to dominate possession after the goal as Boro happily sat back and soaked up the now intense pressure which included Musampa firing straight at Schwarzer and Wright-Phillips blasting over from 18 yards.
Boro could, and perhaps should, have doubled their advantage just before the interval. An error from old boy Danny Mills allowed Zenden time down the left flank and he picked out Hasselbaink in the area who in-turn laid the ball off for Doriva - but the Brazilian fizzed his shot a yard wide when he should have at least tested James.
City needed an early goal in the second half and that is exactly what they got as within 60 seconds of the restart they levelled matters.
Musampa broke into the area and he held off the challenge of Ugo Ehiogu before thumping the ball past Schwarzer.
The second half started to mirror the opening 45 with City dominating possession as Boro toiled to even try and get out of their own half.
With referee Rob Styles handing out yellow cards as if his life depended on it, Ray Parlour was fortunate not to see red as he clipped Bradley Wright-Phillips - but he was given a warning before being substituted for James Morrison.
Doriva mustered Boro's first shot of the second period with 15 minutes left but his volley was straight at James.
City continued to dominate, with one of their numerous corners triggering a scramble that saw Claudio Reyna's shot bravely blocked.
In the final minute City made a truly remarkable change, with Nicky Weaver came on for Reyna, and James took an out-field shirt and moved up front.
James was proving problematic for the Boro defence, but his touch let him down as the away side cleared at every opportunity.
Boro could have put the game beyond doubt when Downing broke clear from Zenden's pass but Weaver pulled off a great save with his feet.
Then extraordinary scenes as City attacked down the right with Barton, he crossed into the area and the ball flew just wide of the post after deflecting off Queudrue. Referee Styles adjudged the Frenchman had used his hand - and despite frantic appeals from the visitors - he gave the penalty.
After the commotion had died down, Fowler stepped up looking confident but Schwarzer was equal to his effort, diving full length to his left to save and grabbing the ball at the second attempt.
The second official then added on five minutes of injury time which made for a frantic finale, but City again failed to break down a stubborn Boro defence - wonderfully marshalled by captain Southgate.
The full time whistle rang out and Boro had booked their second successive season in Europe, but City can be proud of their efforts and their eighth place could still be enough for a Uefa Cup spot should Liverpool win the UEFA Champions League.
Click here for Man City v Middlesbrough player ratings
|Manchester City||Team Name||Middlesbrough|
|4||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||3|
|5||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||1|
|12||Total Fouls Conceded||15|
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