FULHAM 1, MANCHESTER CITY 2
City got back on track with a 2-1 win at Craven Cottage to end a 4 match streak of winless games.
Roberto Mancini had earlier declared that City would retain their Premier League title but they were made to work hard to overcome a hard working and organised Fulham side who made the most of their lack of possession to defy their visitors almost till the end of the game having taken the lead through a very contentious penalty.
“For me, it was not a penalty.” said Mancini.
Mancini was unapologetic about the relative riches he had deployed on his bench, Edin Dzeko scored the late winner just a minute after coming on.
“I was worried because we had to play well and we had chances to score but didn’t score for 87 minutes. The guys played a good game. I was pleased for Edin to score an important goal.”
“We play every three days. We need all of these players.”
Fulham were shorn of an important player in Dimitar Berbatov through a thigh injury but they took a shock lead when John Arne Riise nutmegged Pablo Zabaleta, ran past him, and went down at the slightest of touches by the Argentine defender.
Referee Mark Halsey awarded a penalty which looked highly contentious at the time as Zabaleta’s ‘foul’ seemed to be outside the area. Mladen Petric confidently beat Hart to put the home side into a lead to the indignation of the visitors.
City had the hallmark of champions, however, and two strikes just before the end of each half ensured that City took maximum points away from the capital and ended an unwanted streak of four games without a win.
Sergio Aguero, back after injury, had an easy tap-in after Carlos Tevez’ cross was directed goalwards by David Silva only to be tipped away by Mark Schwarzer into the path of the Argentine striker just before half time.
The second half was a different story for City who had chance after chance to win but were thwarted by superb goal keeping by Schwarzer and some dubious decisions by the match officials.
Carlos Tevez thought he had a first half penalty and tried to claim a shot had crossed the line although video replays were inconclusive. The pressure that City exerted seemed sure to produce results sooner or later.
Sergio Aguero could have sealed the winner with a glancing header that went wide while Pablo Zabaleta survived another penalty call by Fulham before Bryan Ruiz was denied by Joe Hart.
City were made to toil for their win, however, and Mancini had to deploy some of his riches from the bench with Edin Dzeko, on the pitch for just over a minute, heading the winning the goal with just three minutes of normal time left after he latched onto Riise’s poor clearance to turn and head into the net.