Gabriel Jesus scored a late equaliser as Manchester City twice came from behind to rescue a point in the race for a top-four finish and dent Middlesbrough’s Premier League survival hopes.
Boro thought they had secured a valuable win when Calum Chambers poked in from close range on 77 minutes, only for Jesus to rise and convert Sergio Aguero’s cross with five minutes remaining.
It was a cruel blow for the tenacious hosts, who led at the break through Alvaro Negredo’s curling strike against his former club, before Aguero levelled with a penalty on 69 minutes after Marten de Roon was penalised for a trip on Leroy Sane.
There was minimal contact as Sane appeared to run into De Roon’s standing leg and the decision by referee Kevin Friend incensed Boro, who used their anger to drive them on to take the lead once more.
But they switched off defensively as Jesus capped his first start since recovering from a broken metatarsal with a goal.
Fourth-placed City remain one point ahead of rivals Manchester United, but miss the opportunity to go ahead of Liverpool in third.
A point for Steve Agnew’s side matches the results of relegation rivals Hull City and Swansea this weekend, but leaves them six points from safety, with only three games remaining.
Boro blow a gasket
Boro showed a more enterprising style in the first half, capped by a fine counter-attacking move that saw Stewart Downing square for Negredo to curl in off the post despite slipping. Ater the break, Boro retreated into a defensive mindset reminiscent of their play under former boss Aitor Karanka.
They still showed impressive organisation to repel City’s siege with a number of key blocks, but it was no surprise that lively substitute Sane found a way back into the game for the visitors, albeit in contentious circumstances.
The Boro players were furious at the penalty decision and captain Ben Gibson did well to ensure De Roon and Fabio did not get themselves into more trouble than bookings for dissent.
However, instead of losing their heads, the hosts looked renewed. The introduction of Adama Traore allowed them to strike again at the heart of a City defence who looked lightweight and nervy, even with the presence of captain Vincent Kompany.
Negredo was dogged in the City area to prevent the visitors hacking the ball clear and force the ball on to Chambers, with the on-loan Arsenal defender calmly finishing past Willy Caballero.
They looked better when taking the game to City throughout but the perils of that approach were evident in conceding late on, ensuring a result away to Premier League leaders Chelsea on 8 May is even more of a necessity.
|Middlesbrough’s 2016-17 run-in|
|Mon 8 May||Chelsea (A)|
|Sat 13 May||Southampton (H)|
|Sun 21 May||Liverpool (A)|
More to follow.