MANCHESTER CITY 2, FULHAM 0
David Silva’s brace sealed a comfortable victory for City against Fulham but the Spanish International could have taken the match ball home with him if he had completed his hat trick just a minute after scoring his second goal.
David Platt, himself a goalscoring midfielder in his time, admitted the Spanish international, hailed by Martin Jol as the ‘best player in the Premier League’, hadn’t been as prolific as last season but was still pleased with City’s overall performance which reduced United’s lead at the top of the Premier League to 4 points.
“Last season he had a few more goals under his belt.” agreed Platt.
“It would be harsh to say his goals have been lacking. He’s in the team for different reasons not just goalscoring. His performances of late have deserved more goals – he got two today and should have got a third.
“We scored after 90 seconds. The early goal settles us, we’re not going to have to unhook a defence that sits back, but we didn’t really get going at full throttle in the first half. We kept the ball in a certain area but didn’t create a great deal.
“In the second half we were better, and we had two or three good chances to really put the game to bed.
We defended well and restricted Fulham’s chances. Even at 1-0 anyone can score a goal but we felt in control.
Platt praised the team’s work rate and industry but refused to single out players for special praise despite the tireless performance that Carlos Tevez put in today.
“It wasn’t just Carlos,” Platt said. “That’s what he does but it’s not a case of one player taking headlines. We will need performances from everyone and we get that in different ways. We had a lot of good industry from everyone including James Milner, Javi Garcia and Gareth Barry.
“Both teams could drop points between now and the end of the season. We have to keep winning games and look after ourselves and hope that United slip up and be in a position to take advantage of that.”
City never got out of second gear as they calmly carved out another three points at home. Fulham’s floodgates threatened to open after David Silva scored the opening goal with just 96 seconds on the clock when he pounced on the rebound from Edin Dzeko’s shot which was parried by Mark Schwarzer.
To their credit the Cottagers recovered from the early shock of going a goal down but City could have scored another two in the first half if chances for Silva and Tevez had been converted while Steve Sidwell’s header grazed Joe Hart’s post. City’s workrate was commendable throughout the game, with Carlos Tevez pressing Fulham hard and causing problems with his movement and his example seemed to rub off on several other City players as they also pressed Fulham although City couldn’t find the finishing touch to extend their lead.
City improved after the break and carved out several more chances, with Dzeko spurning two easy chances and Tevez blasting high and wide on a brace of opportunities in the second half.
They were hardly put out of their stride when Pablo Zabaleta, City’s unsung hero, had to leave the pitch due to turning his ankle. The Argentine crowd favourite should be back next week though.
It was to Fulham’s credit therefore, and more than a slice of luck, that they held back the City pressure until the 69th minute when Silva latched onto a Tevez backheel to lash home City’s second and less than a minute later could have completed his hat trick when Tevez’ through ball put him clean through but he dragged his shot wide.
At 2-0, City were finally cruising, and there was time for Sergio Aguero was given a late run out and he almost scored after a clever dummy by Dzeko while the Bosnian could afford to smile after he contrived to send an added time chance over the bar from just six yards out after being put through by Gael Clichy with an open goal in front of him.