Shay Given enjoyed a debut to remember as Manchester City piled more misery on Middlesbrough with a 1-0 win at Eastlands. Given was making his City bow after finally getting his wish to leave Newcastle in a £7m move just before the transfer deadline and the Irish goalkeeper's string of fine saves showed why Mark Hughes was willing to pay such a big fee.
He denied Middlesbrough forward Afonso Alves four times and his heroics meant Craig Bellamy's strike early in the second half was enough to give City their third win in four matches. Bellamy's second goal in three matches for his new club condemned Middlesbrough to a 13th consecutive game without a win - equalling their worst run in the Premier League - and left Gareth Southgate's team marooned in the relegation zone.
Middlesbrough started with a clear lack of confidence and Didier Digard's poor pass fell straight to Stephen Ireland. The City midfielder curled a pass to Bellamy and only a brave block from Brad Jones denied the Wales ace. Ireland created more problems with a corner which Micah Richards powered forward to Vincent Kompany. His first touch was good, but the volley on the turn went wide.
After a slow start Middlesbrough came to life when Johnson set up Afonso Alves and the Brazilian lashed in a shot that Given instinctively blocked. Jones matched Given's efforts when Bellamy drove towards the goal and the Australian keeper wasn't finished there as he plunged to his left to push away a Robinho shot. Given took centre stage after that with a sensational one-handed stop to deny Alves.
City were back on the attack when Wayne Bridge crossed to Ireland, who threw himself into a diving header that crashed back off the bar. Boro's response was another Alves' effort, which again Given proved equal to, turning the shot away with his legs after he escaped City's slack marking.
City finally broke the deadlock in the 51st minute, as the visitors were punished for more sloppy defending. Nigel de Jong's pass picked out Bellamy on the edge of the box and when Emanuel Pogatetz did not close down the space quickly enough, Bellamy slipped clear and drove a low shot into the far corner.
City went for the kill and Ireland's superb pass found Bellamy, but the Middlesbrough defence snuffed out the danger for once. Robinho should have sealed the win when he beat the offside trap to meet Wright-Phillips' pass. However, the Brazilian tried to round Jones when a shot would have been better and the keeper was able to make the save.
Alves had one more chance to beat Given midway through the second half, but the keeper came out on top again with another fine stop. Middlesbrough had a late penalty appeal turned down when Marlon King's cross struck Bridge, but referee Andre Marriner waved away the penalty appeals.