City grind a point from Boro stalemate

Middlesbrough 0:0 Leicester City

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City kicked off 2017 with a point from a dour 0-0 draw at Middlesbrough on Monday…

Claudio Ranieri made five changes for this second game in three days with Fuchs, Mendy, King, Okazaki and Ulloa in the starting line-up.

After a scrappy opening spell, City’s first chance came in the 7th minute when King set up Fuchs for a shot that went wide of the target.
Ramirez then fouled Mahrez 25 yards out, but his free kick lacked pace and was blocked by the wall.
Boro were unable to get a passing move together until the 17th minute when Traore exhibited his pace for the first time. He evaded two challenges before being halted by Huth, but referee Bobby Madley ignored the home crowds’ loud appeals for a penalty.
Shortly after this, Traore left King for dead down the right, but his near-post cross was spooned over by De Roon.

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City were awarded another free-kick on the edge of the area for a Clayton foul on Mahrez, but this was wasted by King who delivered it straight into Guzan’s hands.
It was a pretty poor spectacle by this stage, with City content to concede possession and Boro looking blunt up front. Although Negredo put an effort into the side-netting and Mahrez was nimbly robbed by Fabio as he shaped to shoot, it was no surprise when the sides went in goalless at the break.

After some early second half pressure from the home side,  City broke upfield and Mahrez sent King down the left on the overlap. But his low cross passed across the goalmouth with no blue shirt on hand to apply a finishing touch.
Boro began to apply some pressure but Huth was dealing with a series of crosses comfortably.
Then Friend attempted a more direct route to goal, beating Simpson before attempting a top corner curler that had no curl and sailed wide.
City had a rare chance in the 69th minute but Ulloa sent a weak header straight at Guzan from a corner.

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Claudia Ranieri made a couple of changes around the 70 minute mark, with Mahrez and Okazaki brought off for Gray and Musa.
Boro’s best chance of breaking the deadlock came in the 81st minute when a Fabio cross took an awkward bounce in front of Morgan, causing him to send a hurried header straight to Ramirez. Fortunately the Boro man didn’t accept the gift and dragged a shot wide.
City threatened a couple of times in the five minutes of time added on: substitute Albrighton crossed for Ulloa, but his header landed on the roof of the net, and a Gray free-kick came to nothing.
0-0 was a fitting scoreline for this non-event of a game, but a point was most welcome.

Claudio Ranieri summed up: “The performance was good, a good spirit. We got one point and a second clean sheet in a row, it was good for us. Middlesbrough pushed a lot but were only dangerous on two or three crosses. We were so solid, I’m pleased with the spirit we showed. This season we have conceded so many goals, we had to improve. We have gone back to being solid and strong with a good personality.”

Middlesbrough: Guzan, Fabio, Gibson, Clayton, Negredo, De Roon, Barragan (Friend 34), Ramirez, Chambers, Forshaw (Leadbitter 89), Traore (Downing 80). Subs Not Used: Konstantopoulos, Bernardo, Rhodes, Stuani.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Mendy (Albrighton 83), Amartey, King, Mahrez (Musa 71), Okazaki (Gray 74), Ulloa. Subs Not Used: Zieler, Chilwell, Hernández, Wasilewski.

Referee: R Madley. Attendance: 32,437.

PHOTOS: Simon Kimber. 
———————————————————————
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