The Giant Killers

Every F A cup giant killing since 1888

All time greatest F A cup giant killings

Number 83

 

 Manchester City 0-2 Middlesbrough

Fourth Round: Saturday January 24th 2015

Eastlands, Manchester

Attendance: 44,836

Scorers: Patrick Bamford {53}, Kike {90 + 3} 
 
As the political parties geared up for the general election, a row developed over what parties should be included in planned TV debates. It was the end of an era for the Sun newspaper as the topless page three girl feature was ceased after forty-five years. The first episode of the BBC's adaptation of 'Wolf Hall' was hailed a success, Liam Neeson was displaying his special set of skills yet again in Taken 3, Mark Ronson and Bruno Marrs topped the charts with 'Uptown Funk' and the soap world said goodbye to Coronation Street's Anne Kirkbride who passed away.

 What state were Middlesbrough in?

It was six years since Boro dropped out of the Premier League and their time in the Championship was proving very eventful. Each of the five seasons since had seen the team launch a strong promotion bid only to collapse and miss out or struggle against relegation before salvaging their place towards the season’s end. When the 2013/14 season was taking the look of the latter, Boro sought a new manager. Their choice was to offer Aitor Karanka his first opportunity of club management. As a player he won the Champions League three times with Real Madrid and was capped once by Spain as well as the unofficial Basque Region National team.

Karanka’s side was largely an inherited one without a great deal of top flight experience as all of the side relegated six years earlier had moved on. Dean Whitehead and Grant Leadbitter were the only two recognised Premier League players, though both had been at the highest level with near rivals, Sunderland. Whitehead however had also been a beaten cup finalist in 2011 while at Stoke.

Daniel Ayala had managed a few top flight appearances for both Liverpool and Norwich but found himself largely loaned out by both before opting to sign for Boro. George Friend was the only other member of the side to play a Premier League game, though that was a single game for Wolves in 2009 for which the club were fined for deliberately fielding a weakened side. Like Ayala he came to Boro after a series of loan spells.

Boro also had a continental flavour to the side, which, with a Spanish manager, also had a tinge of a Spanish feel. Like his gaffer, Thomas Mejias Osorio came from the galacticos of Real Madrid but unlike his gaffer, he managed just one game before coming to England where he was now under study of Greek keeper, Dimi Konstanopoulos. Enrique Garcia Martinez, better known to fans as Kike came from Spanish Second Division Football. Yanic Wildschut played most of his career in his native Netherlands and Boro also contained two Internationals. Jelle Vossen of Belgium, who was at the Riverside on loan from his homeland, and Albert Adomah, a Londoner by birth who represented his ancestral homeland, Ghana.

The rest of the squad included former Manchester City junior, Adam Clayton who was loaned to several clubs after not getting closer than the Eastland’s subs bench. Twenty-one year old Patrick Bamford could have taken a scholarship at Harvard but chose Football instead, arriving at Boro on a loan deal from Chelsea. Lee Tomlin helped Peterborough gain promotion to the Championship before moving to the Riverside while Adam Reach and Ben Gibson both came through Middlesbrough’s own youth policy.

Karanka’s squad started the 2014/15 season a little on the jittery side with three defeats in their first five games but then lost just two of their next twenty-two Championship fixtures to sit poised for promotion back to the big time with nineteen games to play. In the League cup earlier in the season they suffered a heart breaking marathon penalty shoot-out defeat to Liverpool, while the third round of the F A cup gave them a trip to struggling Championship rivals, Barnsley  where the only surprise was that Boro only won 2-0 and not by a much larger margin.  

What about Manchester City?

As one of the biggest teams in Europe, City’s priorities lay with trying to win the Champions League for the first time, as well as defending the Premier League title they won the previous May. They came through the group stages in the former and were lying second in the latter. In the FA cup however, City tended to put in substandard performances on a regular basis. They were given the chance to exact revenge on Wigan for their 2013 cup final defeat but came up short yet again, being beaten 1-2. They also needed a last minute winner against Championship Sheffield Wednesday in the third round this season after another iffy cup day.

Manager, Manuel Pellegrini wasn’t taking the cup lightly though and the four changes he made to his side were done so on the back of a poor home defeat to Arsenal in their previous League game and not in any attempt to rest players. In keeping with modern cup tradition, regular keeper, Joe Hart stepped down to the subs bench to give Willy Caballero a game but the outfield ten players were all full internationals and integral members of the regular Champions League and Premier League side. The names Zabaletta, Milner, Kompany, Kolarov, Silva, Aguerro and Jesus Navas were among a full strength team with vast experience on the biggest stage.

Manuel Pellegrini took his team away to Dubai for a training camp before the game with eyebrows being raised when the team only returned to the UK on the eve of the tie.

The game

 

5,500 Boro fans made the trip to Manchester and were packed in and making their presence felt long before kick off in a sell-out stadium, even if the City fans were a little less enthusiastic, most not taking their seats until just prior to kick-off.

City dominated the first half and it seemed only a matter of time before they scored. Boyata had the first chance but managed only to strike the ball against a team mate from eight yards before skying woefully. Mejias then began an excellent display in the ‘Boro goal, making fine saves from Milner, Silva and Jovetic before the break while the homes fans howled for a penalty when Ayala appeared to handle.

Mejias started the second half as he finished the first, with a more routine save from Jovetic before ‘Boro took the lead in a comedy of City errors. A goal kick from Mejias barely reached the half way line but was allowed to bounce up the field with City players seemingly incapable of controlling the ball while Adomah and Vossen both managed to somehow work a one two that put the former through on goal. Caballero then managed to completely bottle his fifty-fifty challenge with Adomah who got enough on the ball to steer it goalwards. Fernando was favourite to reach it first, under pressure from Bamford only to lash the ball straight into the ‘Boro man and into the net.

The game turned on its head as Caballero had to make saves in quick succession from Tomlin and Leadbitter. Adomah should then have done better with his attempted lob over Caballero before Tomlin did brilliantly to create a chance that came agonisingly back off the post. Vossen then volleyed straight at Caballero as ‘Boro counter attacked with real threat. Without a second goal, City were always in the game and substitute, Frank Lampard almost saved them when his deflected shot hit the angle of post and bar with three minutes remaining.

The game was settled two minutes into stoppage time when Adomah slotted the ball through to Bamford who managed to set up Kike to net the clincher and make the remaining four minutes of stoppage time a formality.

{image above - Kike nets the clincher}

Aftermath

An afternoon that should have made ‘Boro the headline writers saw them instead have to play second fiddle as Kike’s winning goal happened at the exact moment Bradford sealed their victory over Chelsea with a fourth goal to pull off an even bigger shock. There was still plenty of space on TV and social media for high praise for the victorious ‘Boro team though.

Striker Patrick Bamford said it was “An unforgettable day for us and the fans. We went through some tests and the keeper kept us in it at times. The scruffy goals are the goals I love.” Aitor Karanka said “I’m proud of the players, the fans, the staff and the club…we could have won by more.”

Manuel Pellegrini stated “we had six or seven chances before they scored but then we got nervous. They had opportunities to score more goals and deserved to go through.” Pellegrini was also quick to reject the team’s trip to Dubai as an opportunity for an excuse either.

BBC pundit, Robbie Savage was more scathing though, stating that when he was a player, his teams had always returned from warm weather training camps a good 72 hours before a game. “To come back the night before a game is shocking. But why give people an excuse why they lost? ‘Boro were outstanding.”

The cup run wouldn’t get any easier for Middlesbrough, they would be travelling to Champions League chasing cup holders, Arsenal in round five.

City: 13: Willy Caballero, 5:Pablo Zabaletta, 38:Dedryck Boyata, 4:Vincent Kompany, 11:Aleksandar Kolarov, 7:James Milner, 6:Fernando {Replaced by 10:Edin Dzeko-79}, 15:Jesus Navas {Replaced by 18:Frank Lampard-67}, 21:David Silva, 35:Stevan Jovetic {Replaced by 25:Fernandinho-67}, 16:Sergio Aguero, Manager: Manuel Pellegrini 

Middlesbrough:40:Thomas Mejias Osorio, 18:Dean Whitehead, 4:Daniel Ayala, 6:Ben Gibson, 3:George Friend, 8:Adam Clayton, 7:Grant Leadbetter, 23:Patrick Bamford {Replaced by 33:Yanic Wildschut-90 + 5}, 10:Lee Tomlin {Replaced by 20:Adam Reach-81}, 27:Albert Adomah, 21:Jelle Vossen {Replaced by 9:Kike-87}, Head Coach: Aitor Karanka