AFONSO ALVES proved the scourge of Manchester City once again as his 53rd-minute penalty helped Middlesbrough to victory.
Brazilian Alves had hit a hat-trick in the corresponding fixture last season as Boro struck eight goals past their opponents.
Another nine-goal epic was always a distant dream but that will not perturb Boro boss Gareth Southgate, whose workmanlike side were full value for their points.
They were finally secured in the fifth minute of injury-time when Boro streaked over the halfway line and Tuncay Sanli squared for Gary O’Neil to lash his side’s second into the roof of the net.
Goalkeeper Ross Turnbull made a super series of saves to deny Vincent Kompany, Stephen Ireland and Shaun Wright-Phillips but ultimately City boss Mark Hughes could have few complaints.
Referee Lee Mason pointed to the spot after Daniel Sturridge tangled with David Wheater on the edge of the City box — despite City complaints that the incident happened outside the box.
City had started well with Robinho at the centre of most of their early moves.
Boro came close in the 39th minute when Jeremie Aliadiere’s persistence paid off down the right and he flung in a dangerous cross which missed the head of the lurking Alves by inches.
Turnbull was called into action twice in the opening four minutes of the second half, first parrying Ireland’s low shot in the box then stretching to deny Wright-Phillips’ low effort with his feet.
But Boro grabbed the chance to turn the match in their favour in the 53rd minute when Sturridge and Wheater tangled in the far right corner of the City box and referee Mason pointed to the spot.
Alves stepped up to coolly place the ball high to Hart’s right.
Turnbull saved Boro again in the 71st minute but
the home side secured the points deep into injury-time when Tuncay squared in front of goal after a swift counter-attack and O’Neil gleefully rifled the ball into the roof of the net.
MIDDLESBROUGH: Turnbull, Wheater, Riggott, Pogatetz, Taylor, Aliadiere, O’Neil, Digard (Arca 75), Downing (Adam Johnson 83), Sanli, Alves.
MAN CITY: Hart, Ben-Haim, Richards, Dunne, Onuoha, Kompany, Wright-Phillips, Ireland, Elano (Fernandes 67), Robinho, Sturridge (Evans 77).
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire).
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