Mendieta shackled by goal-shy Leicester

Leicester City 0 Middlesbrough 0
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The Independent Football

Frantic but goalless, Gaizka Mendieta's Middlesbrough debut was more remarkable for Leicester's enthusiastic, if blunt, attacking than for any dazzling contribution by the Spaniard. But Boro should at least be happy with a point this morning. They could easily have gone home with nothing.

Middlesbrough's manager, Steve McClaren, made four changes to the starting line-up drubbed 4-0 by Arsenal at the weekend. Mendieta's international clearance for his one-year loan from Lazio meant an immediate place on the right of midfield. Jonathan Greening and Joseph-Desire Job returned after injury, while Andrew Davies replaced the injured Chris Riggott in defence. But Danny Mills was unable to start, because he signed 15 minutes to late on Friday.

Leicester's Micky Adams made one change from the side beaten at Chelsea on Saturday, with Keith Gillespie replacing Andy Impey on the right flank. Adams also reverted to 4-4-2, from 3-5-2, presumably intent on being more attack-minded at home.

Leicester started brightly, Muzzy Izzet thwacking a running volley from 20 yards in the 12th minute to force a good reaction save from Mark Schwarzer. Izzet then helped set up James Scowcroft for a powerful header that went close.

Going forward, the home side were a lively combination. All they lacked was a sure final touch. Middlesbrough had more style about them in the first half, but no greater effectiveness. Mendieta showed glimpses of his talent - a neat chest-down, turn and pass early on was wasted by Szilard Nemeth, and a 20-yard shot from the Spanish international minutes later was inches too high. Some of his interplay with Juninho, who was constantly looking to weave spells in the space behind the two strikers, looked encouraging but came to nothing in the opening period.

Leicester dominated for the majority of the second half, with the focus of their thrust switching to Gillespie. Several times he tore down the right, evading brittle challenges, to lash crosses towards the box. Again a lack of a killer instinct proved costly, which was never more evident than in the 57th minute when one ball went begging past three pairs of Leicester feet as it ran to safety. Five minutes later, Rogers did get on the end of another one but shot wide of the goal.

Leicester City (4-4-2): Walker 5; Curtis 5, Howey 5, Thatcher 6, Rogers 6; Gillespie 6, Izzet 7, Scimeca 5, Nalis 4 (Deane 72, 5); Dickov 5 (Hignett 80), Scowcroft 5. Substitutes not used: Coyne (gk), Taggart, Impey.

Middlesbrough (4-3-1-2): Schwarzer 6; Parnaby 5, Davies 6, Southgate 5, Cooper 4 (Stockdale h-t, 5); Mendieta 6, Boateng 6, Greening 5; Juninho 5; Job 5 (Ricketts 80), Nemeth 4 (Christie 80). Substitutes not used: Nash (gk), Doriva.

Referee: G Barber (Tring) 5.

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