Middlesbrough 3:3 Leicester City
A Yakubu hat-trick was not enough to earn the points for City at the Riverside on Saturday, with Middlesbrough finding a 95th minute equaliser to square an eventful game at 3-3…
Sven Goran Eriksson shuffled things up with Ricardo dropped in favour of Weale, King demoted to the bench, and Kamara making his debut, while Oakley returned for Abe in midfield.
It was a line up that paid instant dividends with City taking a 4th minute lead. A Gallagher corner from the left was retrieved by Wellens who fired a cross into the goalmouth which Yakubu diverted home to silence the boos that had greeted the former Boro player’s appearance.
However, the home side were level again within nine minutes. Smallwood broke through the middle and fed Emnes on the right, the Dutchman slotting the ball under Weale.
Both side shad decent chances to go ahead, Van Aaanholt forcing a good save from Smith and Smallwood going close with an effort, but it was City who regained the lead just before the break.
Gallagher delivered a corner from the right, Bruma headed into the danger area and Yakubu beat Bamba to the ball to guide it over the line from inches out.
City almost went ahead through Kamara soon after the break but he was denied by Smith. The travelling fans didn’t have long to wait however, Yakubu completing his hat trick in the 49th minute. Latching on to a clever ball from Vassell he outpaced the Boro defence and slotted the ball under the advancing Smith to give City a two goal lead.
Unfortunately it wasn’t enough. Six minutes later the lead was reduced when Williams lashed in a shot from the edge of the area after combining well with Arca.
Substitute Zammama then fired a 25 yard shot onto the left hand upright with City living dangerously.
In the 76th minute Bruma was harshly judged to have handled after blocking a fierce Arca shot into a crowded area. Weale brilliantly saved Arca’s spot kick low to his left and while his team mates congratulated him, Bruma foolishly had a word with the ref, which resulted in him being shown a second yellow card.
The left hand upright was hit again when Emnes should have scored, and as the game entered it’s fourth minute of time-added-on it looked as though the ten men had earned the points.
Unfortunately McManus then got a thumping header to an Arca corner to give Boro a share of the spoils.
In an instant City had gone from 8th to 12th in the live League Tables on a day when the teams surrounding City had not done well.
The fact that City lost two points from a header in Bruma’s position was not lost on Sven: “Players should not talk to the referee and should not discuss with him any decisions. I will talk to the referee when he comes off. If players argue with the referee they will get booked. Some of my players need to be reminded of that.”
Middlesbrough: Smith, Davies (McManus 71), Taylor (Kink 71), McMahon, Hines, Williams, Bennett, Arca, Smallwood (Zemmama 60), McDonald, Emnes. Subs Not Used: Tavares, Halliday, Grounds, Coyne.
Leicester: Weale, Bamba, Naughton , Van Aanholt, Bruma, Oakley, Wellens, Kamara (Waghorn 88), Yakubu (Vitor 80), Gallagher (Abe 71), Vassell. Subs Not Used: Howard, King, Ricardo, Dyer.
Referee:A Haines (Tyne & Wear). Attendance: 14,500.
Photo: Paul Kirk.