Fulham 1-2 Manchester City: Match report
Manchester City ended a run of four games without a win as they came from behind to beat Fulham at Craven Cottage. Mladen Petric had opened the scoring for the hosts from the spot, but Sergio Aguero equalised with his first goal of the season and Edin Dzeko thumped home the winner to ensure the champions halted their alarming slump in form.
It took just ten minutes for Mark Halsey to once again find himself in the not-so-envious position of beleaguered referee after his debacle last week at Anfield. This time it wasn’t a contentious decision in favour of the side from Manchester, as the whistle blower awarded a penalty to the Cottagers when left-back John Arne Riise flopped to the ground after Pablo Zabaleta was adjudged to have done something – I’m not quite sure what – wrong. Petric made no mistake, sending Joe Hart the wrong way and smashing the ball into the left hand corner. Unfortunately, the Croat seemed to lose that composure in open play when ballooning a great chance, just moments later.
Much of the talk before the game surrounded Carlos Tevez, never too far away from the headlines, with Roberto Mancini claiming the forward had lost fitness whilst returning to his native Argentina during the international break. It was the first signs of a wedge between the pair since their clash last year in which Tevez decided to have a six month break on the golf course before returning to help City win the title. Many felt tensions would resurface if, as he was in last week’s encounter with Arsenal, he were to be left on the bench. Fortunately for City fans hoping to avoid another awkward realisation that their star player is nothing but a spoilt brat, both he and Aguero started together for the first time since the opening day of the season.
Indeed it was Tevez who came closest to equalising, desperately attempting to bundle home Zabeleta’s scuffed cross before the ever impressive Mark Schwarzer managed to throw himself on the ball just as it appeared to be crossing the line. The Aussie keeper could do nothing about Aguero’s effort, however, although he had a very good go, superbly tipping David Silva’s reflex shot into the path of the fortuitous Argentine to tap home. From that moment, the champions asserted their dominance without really excelling enough to produce their scintillating best, although a fluid front three of Aguero, Tevez and Silva continued to cause Martin Jol’s men problems all afternoon.
Surprisingly, none of these ended as the match winner; that accolade literally fell to the feet of forward Edin Dzeko from Riise’s head. The Fulham defender meekly nodded out a Clichy centre to the Bosnian, and with his first touch of the game the substitute killed the ball and clattered it past the onlooking Schwarzer. It’s a tag that no player wants, but Dzeko really has become Mancini’s super sub with three of his four goals coming from the bench, and henceforth the former Wolfsburg man may have to be patient in order to get the game time he quite clearly craves.
As for his team, they now find themselves level on points with neighbouring title rivals Manchester United, with neither side having shown top form as they begin the hunt to gun down early pace-setters Chelsea.