Barclay’s Premier League
Sunday 21 November 2010, 16.00 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, K Touré, Kompany, Kolarov, de Jong, Y Touré, Barry (Vieira 82), Silva (Milner 88), Tevez (c) (A Johnson 77), Jo
Unused: Given, Boyata, Wright-Phillips, Adebayor
Goals: Tevez (6, 55), Zabaleta (32), Yaya Touré (34)
Referee: Lee Mason
Man of the Match: David Silva
City started the brighter against their former manager’s team and, with recent disappointing draws to United and Birmingham, an early goal would be just what the doctor ordered. And the medicine soon arrived through Carlos Tevez: Barry found him inside the area and he turned brilliantly to set up a one-on-one with Schwarzer. There was nothing the Fulham keeper could do and City had the lead.
Fulham looked to bounce back strongly, but the balls into the box were comfortably dealt with by Kompany and Kolo Touré. With the ball on the ground, it was no contest, as City began to boss possession and the midfield.
A Fulham set piece almost resulted in a brilliant City breakaway goal. A sneaky pull-back to Murphy on the edge of the box was blocked by Silva and Tevez found Kolarov on the break. He took a touch around the defender to set himself through on goal, but a brilliant save from Schwarzer denied him his first goal for the club.
With 26 minutes gone, Silva had options inside the box and he seemed unable to decide which was best. In the end, he neither took on the shot nor the cross and the ball threatened the corner flag more than the goal, with Tevez square of him, ready to unleash an effort on goal.
But, just over five minutes later, City had doubled their lead. Zabaleta, another Mark Hughes signing – seven of which were on the pitch for City – latched onto a poor clearance from Duff and hit it first time from the edge of the box. It brushed Duff on its way through and shot straight past Schwarzer for 0-2.
And, as Fulham looked for a way back into the game, City added their third. Tevez was allowed to turn and run at the Fulham defence and, when it looked like he might take on the shot, he slid in Yaya Touré. His first touch was brilliant and allowed him to slide it across Schwarzer into the bottom corner of the net.
It could have been four for City before the break, as Kolarov fired a great ball across the box that both Yaya Touré and David Silva didn’t read, and it went straight through everybody and out for a throw-in.
Fulham had the final chance of the half as Davies flicked a header towards goal from a quick free-kick, but Hart’s positioning was spot on and it was a simple catch for the City keeper, who had been untroubled all half.
Fulham had clearly had a talking to at half time and came out looking for an immediate response. Hughes headed over from a corner, before Andy Johnson fired in a low cross that needed Hart to collect. Gera then beat Kolarov in the air and Hart produced a great save, but the whistle had gone for a foul by the Fulham man – though Hart wasn’t to know.
With an hour gone, Tevez should have made it four for City. Some neat interplay on the halfway line between Yaya Touré, Zabaleta and Tevez left the two Argentineans to combine, sending the striker through on goal. He ran into the box and looked to bend it around Schwarzer with the outside of his foot, but it was saved for a corner.
From that corner, though, he did get his second and City’s fourth goal. It was only half cleared by Dickson Etuhu and Zabaleta unleashed another thunderbolt from the edge of the box. It flicked off Tevez, over Schwarzer and into the net and City were running away with the game.
Three minutes later, Kolarov could have had his first City goal with a curling effort from the right side of the box, but it was inches the wrong side of the post, with Schwarzer beaten.
With 15 minutes to go, Fulham pulled a goal back. A corner was half cleared by the City defence and Gera shot first time from the edge of the box. It flicked off Yaya Touré’s ankle and past Joe Hart, who couldn’t react to the deflection.
Minutes later, City were unlucky not to have had a penalty as Tevez was fouled trying to skip past Salcido, before Adam Johnson spurned the chance to add to the goals tally as he cut inside from the right wing. He carried it across the edge of the box, but looked for Silva instead of taking on the shot and it was cut out by the Fulham defence.
Gera then fired a free kick well over the bar as the game entered stoppage time, before Andy Johnson looked for a foul from a Zabaleta challenge and Gera wanted a penalty for a de Jong foul, though the referee turned both appeals down.
City fans finished the game bouncing in the away end at Craven Cottage and the performance on the pitch was the answer to recent criticisms. The win also put City back into fourth spot and just three points off the top of the table.