City fell to a 3-1 defeat at the Riverside Stadium, with Boro coming from behind following Fábio’s wonder strike.
FABIO STRIKES, BUT BORO EQUALISE
After a touching tribute in memory of former BBC commentator Ali Brownlee, the hosts began well, with some half chances coming their way. Star January signing Jordan Rhodes was looking lively, and could have opened the scoring after just two minutes. His header from close range was aimed straight at David Marshall in the Cardiff goal, who held onto it comfortably.
However, the Bluebirds took the lead after 20 minutes, with a stunning strike from right-back Fábio. After a Peter Whittingham corner was cleared, the Brazilian pinched the ball from his teammate Joe Ralls, strode forward and thundered a wonderful strike which arrowed into the top left hand corner – his first ever City goal.
Unfortunately, Boro then equalised, in the cruelest of fashions for Matt Connolly. After a pacey counter-attack from the home team, Jordan Rhodes saw his effort well saved by Marshall. The follow-up was headed towards goal by Gaston Ramírez, but a block from Connolly on the line saw it rebound into the net.
BORO TURN IT ROUND & SEAL THE WIN
Anthony Pilkington came close to restoring Cardiff’s lead after thirty-six minutes. He drove towards the edge of the area from the left flank, before crashing a shot towards goal, which went just wide of the post. However, the best opportunity before the break fell to Boro’s Rhodes. The ex-Blackburn man found himself free at the back post – but was denied by a superb Marshall save.
After the break, the Bluebirds looked to retake the lead, as Lex Immers saw a header from close range saved by Konstantopoulos. Pilkington was certainly looking to score too - he hit a fierce shot towards the keeper, but a deflection made former Bluebird Konstantopoulos’ save a lot more comfortable.
The Teessiders built on their attacking momentum, taking the lead after 63 minutes. After a period of sustained pressure, the ball worked its way to Ramírez inside the box, who finished well into the top corner.
Boro looked to have the game wrapped up as they then earned a penalty for a foul on Ramirez. Leadbitter put it powerfully to the left of Marshall, however, the Scotland international pulled off an exceptional save to deny his opposing captain.
Unfortunately for Cardiff, the save only prevented a third for a matter of minutes, as David Nugent then settled the result with seven minutes to go.
Substitute Kenneth Zohore forced a one handed save from Konstantopoulos, but it wasn’t enough to earn the Bluebirds anything from a tough tie at the Riverside.
FULL TIME: MIDDLESBROUGH 3-1 CARDIFF CITY
(Fábio 20’| Connolly OG 25’, Ramírez 63’, Nugent 83’)
Cardiff City: Marshall; Fabio, Ecuele Manga, Connolly, Malone; Lawrence, O'Keefe (Gunnarsson 82’), Ralls, Whittingham (Ameobi 73’); Pilkington, Immers (Zohore 84’).
Subs not used: Moore, Peltier, Dikgacoi, Saadi.
Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos; Nsue, Fry, Kalas, Friend; Adomah, Forshaw, Leadbitter (De Sart 90+2’), Ramírez (Stuani 84’), Downing; Rhodes (Nugent 75’).
Subs not used: Agazzi, De Laet, De Pena, Kike Sola.