Fowler misses late penalty to hand Boro place in Uefa Cup

Manchester City 1 - Middlesbrough 1

Mark Schwarzer dived to his left, smothering Robbie Fowler's penalty kick at the second attempt in the 93rd minute of this extraordinary Uefa Cup "decider", and Middlesbrough had secured seventh place in the Premiership and, with it, a return to European football next season.

Mark Schwarzer dived to his left, smothering Robbie Fowler's penalty kick at the second attempt in the 93rd minute of this extraordinary Uefa Cup "decider", and Middlesbrough had secured seventh place in the Premiership and, with it, a return to European football next season.

Even given City's ceaseless penchant for the melodramatic and the self-inflicted gunshot wound, events at the City of Manchester Stadium took some beating and while the newly installed manager, Stuart Pearce, can at least cling to the consolation of a job extremely well done, his counterpart, Steve McClaren, will know his club were fortunate to escape with the desired result.

Boro owed the point they needed to beat City to seventh place to an exquisite free-kick, struck by Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in the 23rd minute after a trip by Fowler on him. The Dutch forward took a short run-up at the ball, positioned centrally 25 yards from goal, and with barely a suspicion of back-lift, deposited an implausibly swerving shot into the top right-hand corner of the goal.

The goal clearly deflated City after an assured opening in which Shaun Wright-Phillips and Fowler both went close, but Pearce showed his motivational powers over the interval.

Within a minute of the restart, City were level. Joey Barton fed the ball to Kiki Musampa on the edge of the area and the on-loan Dutch winger skilfully turned his marker, Stuart Parnaby, and surged towards the six-yard line where he comfortably beat Schwarzer's dive.

City enjoyed superiority for the remainder of the game although, with Ugo Ehiogu and Gareth Southgate monumental in Boro's defence, there was little to concern Schwarzer before the phenomenal finale.

In the 85th minute Ben Thatcher'sheader was cleared off the line by the combined efforts of Parnaby and Boudewijn Zenden and, with the dust yet to settle on that incident, Pearce played his masterstroke.

Reserve goalkeeper Nicky Weaver came off the bench, for midfield player Reyna, David James donned a specially printed outfield jersey and for the final seven minutes of the game an England keeper would be playing centre-forward for City.

The ploy almost worked, spectacularly. Barton's injury-time cross was handled by Franck Queudrue, an infringement committed because of James' lurking far-post presence. Fowler, though, was not to be the hero. That role belonged to Schwarzer, as did the Uefa Cup place to Middlesbrough.

Pearce, mindful of his own experience in taking penalties for England, was quick with advice for Fowler. He said: "What did I say to him? 'Join the club!' "

Goals: Hasselbaink (23) 0-1, Musampa (46) 1-1.

Manchester City (4-4-2): James; Mills (Croft, 84), Distin, Onuoha, Thatcher; S Wright-Phillips, Barton, Reyna (Weaver, 88), Musampa; Sibierski (B Wright-Phillips, 54), Fowler. Substitutes not used: Macken, Jordan.

Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Parnaby, Ehiogu, Southgate, Queuedrue; Parlour (Morrison, 68; Reiziger, 83), Boateng, Doriva, Zenden; Nemeth (Downing, 54), Hasselbaink. Substitutes not used: Knight, Cooper, Morrison.

Referee: R Styles (Hampshire).

Booked: Manchester City Barton, Distin; Middlesbrough Queudrue, Zenden, Doriva, Parlour.

Man of the match: Schwarzer.

Attendance: 47,221.

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