Middlesbrough 8 Manchester City 1
Sven-Goran Eriksson’s anticipated final match in charge of Manchester City ended in humiliating fashion as his 10-man side lost 8-1 at Middlesbrough.
The former England boss has guided the club to ninth in the Barclays Premier League and a likely place in the UEFA Cup via the Fair Play League but that does not appear enough to save his job.
Thai owner Thaksin Shinawatra has expressed his disappointment with the final outcome of Eriksson’s 10 months in charge and the former Thai Prime Minister is fully expected to dispense with the Swede’s services sooner rather than later.
That is much to the disgust of City’s supporters, who chanted their support for the Swede throughout the match.
Stewart Downing fired home a 16th-minute penalty after Richard Dunne was harshly sent off for bringing down Tuncay Sanli and eight minutes before the break Afonso Alves slotted home the second from 14 yards.
A superb volley with the outside of his left foot from Downing, another strike from Alves, a deflected long-range effort from Adam Johnson, Fabio Rochemback’s 30-yard free-kick and a goal from Jeremie Aliadiere were followed by a consolation for Elano before Alves completed his hat-trick.
The match began badly for City when striker Benjani Mwaruwari received lengthy treatment after being caught in the chest by Rochemback’s swinging right leg and was eventually replaced by Nery Castillo in the 13th minute.
Boro’s first chance fell to George Boateng from Rochemback’s free-kick but a diving Dunne blocked the shot at the expense of a corner.
From Rochemback’s delivery, Afonso Alves completely missed his kick but Julio Arca was behind him to curl a 20-yard shot narrowly wide.
The hosts took the lead in the 16th minute when Tuncay raced on to a long ball and, as he entered the penalty area, he accidentally caught Dunne’s leg as the defender tried to get back.
The City captain was harshly dismissed by referee Phil Dowd and Stewart Downing clinically dispatched the penalty.
Andreas Isaksson then did well to smother Alves’ close-range effort from Downing’s 29th-minute corner, although his save was more down to luck than judgment.
Rochemback wasted the chance to shoot from 16 yards, instead passing to Tuncay and allowing City’s defence to get back to block.
But the next time the Brazilian went forward, the decision to pass paid off as he picked out compatriot Afonso Alves who slotted home left-footed in the 37th minute.
Late on in the half, Isaksson pulled off a superb save to deny Boateng just five yards out from Downing’s left-wing cross.
Isaksson was soon into the action in the second half, parrying Rochemback’s free-kick which was fortuitously awarded for Sun Jihai’s foul on Downing and wrongly deemed to be outside the penalty area by Dowd.
Exactly the same scenario cost Sun a booking in the 54th minute, although Downing appeared to once again go looking for the obstruction.
But the England winger did something positive in the 57th minute when, after Boateng’s right-wing cross was knocked on, he smashed a superb volley with the outside of his left foot inside the far post to end the match as a contest.
Two minutes later, Afonso Alves made it 4-0 when he raced on to Arca’s through-ball to stab past Isaksson.
Chris Riggott then had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside as Boro threatened to run riot.
City’s luck was obviously not in as, in the 70th minute, Boro grabbed a fifth when Johnson’s long-range shot was deflected past Isaksson.
Elano replaced Martin Petrov but, in truth, the visitors were just going through the motions.
Rochemback made it 6-0 with a 30-yard free-kick 10 minutes from time and substitute Aliadiere fired home the seventh in the 85th minute.
Elano scored a consolation before Afonso Alves completed his hat-trick.
Small pockets of fighting broke out between City supporters and stewards at the end of the match, with some seats being ripped out and thrown on to the pitch.
However, a strong police presence, which included dog handlers, soon quelled the violence.