Manchester City boss Mark Hughes blamed a "strange" performance from referee Lee Mason for contributing to his side's miserable 2-0 defeat by Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.
Hughes was angry after seeing Mason award Boro a 53rd-minute penalty when Daniel Sturridge and David Wheater tangled on the edge of the City box, with subsequent television replays inconclusive.
Hughes, who then saw Afonso Alves convert the subsequent spot-kick before his side conceded a second to Gary O'Neil deep in injury time, said: "It was a strange performance by him (the referee)."
He added: "My feeling is the lad wasn't in full control of the ball and it was more a case of Wheater's legs tangling with Daniel's. The linesman didn't flag and he had the best view.
"I think most people's opinion on the night is that his (the referee's) performance was average, if that.
"Too many times he made decisions that baffled people not only connected with City but people connected with Middlesbrough as well."
City had started brightly with Robinho at the centre of most of their early moves as he blazed high and wide then stretched keeper Ross Turnbull inside the first 10 minutes.
Turnbull would ultimately keep Boro in with a chance by pulling off a series of fine saves to deny the likes of Vincent Kompany, Stephen Ireland and Shaun Wright-Phillips, and earned Boro boss Gareth Southgate's praise afterwards.
Southgate described Turnbull's display as "terrific", and added: "When our defence was breached, Ross was outstanding for us and you didn't think he'd be beaten all night.
"I keep saying Brad Jones is very unlucky to be out of this team because he is an excellent goalkeeper but Ross's performances are giving him the shirt on merit."
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