Guardiola's side drop points at home for third consecutive game
FA Premier League
Saturday 05 November 2016, 15.00 KO
City: Bravo, Zabaleta, Stones, Kolarov, Clichy, Fernandinho, Gundogan (Nolito 74), Silva, De Bruyne, Navas (Garcia 86), Aguero (Iheanacho 90)
Unused: Caballero, Kompany, Maffeo, Sane
Goals: Aguero (43)
Referee: Kevin Friend
Man of the match: Navas
Marten de Roon scored an injury-time equaliser to snatch a point for Middlesbrough, and condemn City to their third successive home league draw. It was a frustrating afternoon for Guardiola's side, who will have felt they did enough to win the game, despite not being at their fluent best.
Guardiola made three changes from the side that had beaten Barcelona so impressively in midweek, with Claudio Bravo, Gael Clichy, and Jesus Navas replacing Willy Caballero, Nicolas Otamendi, and Raheem Sterling in the starting XI.
As expected, Middlesbrough set up to defend and got ten men behind the ball at every opportunity. City's Champions League exertions had clearly taken their toll, and the Blues laboured for long spells against Aitor Karanka's men. On the occasions when City were able to create clear-cut chances, they found Victor Valdes in inspired form.
The ex-Barcelona goalkeeper made a series of smart saves from Sergio Aguero and David Silva to keep the game goalless, despite suffering a deep cut to his leg during the game. His resistance was finally broken two minutes before the interval, when a sumptuous Kevin De Bruyne cross was converted by Aguero for his 150th goal for the club. On the stroke of half-time Navas nearly doubled City's advantage, but saw his shot hit the upright with Valdes beaten.
The visitors showed a little more ambition in the second half, and Alvaro Negredo nearly equalised against his former club with an audacious lob from near the halfway line. Adam Forshaw then saw a shot well saved by Bravo, but the home side looked the more likely to score the crucial next goal.
Aguero and De Bruyne both missed good opportunities to put the game beyond Boro, and City paid in the ultimate price when de Roon powered home a header in the final moments of the game to send the visitors home with a point they scarcely deserved.
Guardiola was clearly disappointed at the final whistle, but remained pragmatic after the game despite having seen his side take just three points from the last possible nine at home.
“The last two or three weeks have always been like this. It will [continue] like this. The season is long. We will recover mentally and physically. Sometimes when you miss out on points it is a pity, it is a shame, because we tried to do everything in the game. We were generous in our efforts and the respect for the people [fans].”
“What happens in the Premier League is that when they arrive in the area they punish you. That’s why we have to try when we arrive there – like the chances in the first half. They had 10 players [defending], they didn’t want to play. When 10 players are there it is difficult but we created enough chances to score another goal. Víctor Valdés had a marvellous game like [Maarten] Stekelenburg of Everton [in a previous 1-1 draw].”
“We created the last two chances for Agüero and the last one with Kevin when he’s alone with no goalkeeper there,” he said. “These kind of things are so important, especially when you played Barcelona a few days before when of course you are tired in the last minutes. You mentally want to finish that game because we are there at 1-0.”