Barclay’s English Premiership
Sunday 25 October 2009, 15:00 KO
City: Given, Richards, Lescott, Touré (c) (Kompany 90+2), Bridge, Barry, de Jong (Ireland 72), Bellamy, Petrov (Wright-Phillips 67), Tevez, Adebayor
Unused: Taylor, Johnson, Slyvinho, Weiss
Goals: Lescott (53), Petrov (59)
Referee: Kevin Friend
Man of the Match: Gareth Barry
A victory for City, after the results of the day before, could have lifted the blues up to third place. But in their way was a resilient Fulham side, who had already shown City what they were capable of by taking them to extra time in the Carling Cup, earlier in the season.
The first action of the game saw the Fulham centre-back Hangeland booked for a body-check on Carlos Tevez. A City corner then came to nothing, as the home side tried to take control early on.
With eight minutes on the clock, Petrov tried a new corner routine, firing it wide from the flank to the edge of the box, but the waiting Craig Bellamy could only volley well over the bar.
Ten minutes later, Tevez unleashed a shot from the edge of the box. Despite failing to connect properly, his shot squirmed past Schwarzer, who dived late, but it was just wide of the Fulham keeper’s post.
The best chance of the half then fell to the visitors. The City defence were at sixes and sevens as the ball was played over the top to Kamara. The back four wanted offside, the flag stayed down and Given dived to smother the ball at the forward’s feet to snuff out the danger.
The City fans wanted a penalty for a challenge on Adebayor a minute later, but the referee judged that Stephen Kelly won the ball. Then, just after the half hour, Barry attempted a turn and volley in the box, but it was blocked before Schwarzer had to deal with it.
Adebayor then wanted a penalty for being held in the box, and, seconds later, Tevez flashed a near post header just over the bar from a Martin Petrov corner. City were doing their best to carve out chances, but they were being restricted by a solid Fulham side.
Then, minutes before half time, City scored… Only to see it ruled out for a foul in the box. Micah Richards got up well to head in from a corner, but the referee judged that Gareth Barry had blocked the run of Richards’s marker unfairly and gave a free kick to Fulham.
Just after the break, the visitors should have taken the lead. Shay Given could only parry a shot out to Bobby Zamora who, somehow, fired over the bar from six yards, when it was easier to score.
City were fortunate not to be behind and they used that good fortune to their advantage, as a right wing corner was cleared only as far as Wayne Bridge. After taking a touch, he curled an effort around a group of players in the box and it was a fine save from Schwarzer that denied him goal.
And from the resulting corner, City made it 1-0. As the ball came into the box, it was nodded back into the middle from the back post, where Adebayor thought he’d put it over the line. But Lescott got the final touch, following in and, controversially, looked to have been just offside. Nothing doing, though, and the goal was given.
And soon after, City doubled their lead. Bellamy’s corner was cleared out to Touré, who played the ball wide to Petrov, the winger having dropped deep. He fed it wide to Barry, who returned the ball to the Bulgarian and Martin Petrov slammed the ball into the bottom corner.
But two minutes later and the City confidence took a dent. Fulham came straight on the attack and Damien Duff was able to fire past Shay Given from outside the box, after receiving a chest-down from Zamora, to make it 2-1.
And with 20 minutes to go, City received a double blow. First, the on-form Petrov had to leave the action with injury and, seconds later, Fulham equalised. A free-kick from the left flank was curled into the box and Dempsey got above Lescott to head past the despairing dive of Given.
City were doing their all to create chances, but they were running out of ideas, choosing to lift the ball over towards Adebayor’s head, instead of the fast, flowing football we’d seen earlier in the season.
Zamora was inches away from making it 2-3, when he turned Lescott and fired off a shot across goal. Given dived, not knowing if it would be inside his post, and, fortunately for City, it wasn’t. Given was then alert to make a smart stop from Hangeland at a Fulham corner.
Wright-Phillips then fired over from range, before Gareth Barry headed just wide from six yards after Wright-Phillips crossed. The game finished soon after, with City desperately trying to force another chance, and Fulham holding on to the ball and taking their time.
On a weekend where all the results went in favour of City, the team couldn’t take advantage and, despite having been fortunate to be 2-0 up, they will be disappointed that they only took a point from the game.