FA Premier League
Saturday 19 January 2013, 15.00 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta (Nasri 63), Kompany (c), Nastasic, Clichy, Garcia, Barry, Milner, Tevez (Aguero 81), Silva (Lescott 89), Dzeko
Unused: Pantilimon, Rodwell, Kolarov, Balotelli
Goals: Silva (2, 69)
Referee: Jon Moss
Man of the Match: Gareth Barry
It couldn’t have been a better start for City, with the home side taking the lead inside the first 90 seconds. Barry stole the ball back for the hosts inside the Fulham half and it deflected kindly for Dzeko. His shot from the edge of the box was parried out by Schwarzer and Silva was following in, slotting the ball past the goalkeeper from inside the box.
But if the fans inside the Etihad Stadium were hoping the goal would spark their team into life, they were to be disappointed, as a combination of slack passing from the blues and high pressing from their opposition led to a scrappy encounter. The visitors weren’t threatening much, but neither were City, who could only chalk up a header straight at the goalkeeper from Dzeko following taking the lead.
Fulham weren’t far from a leveller mid-way through the first half. A cross towards the back post wasn’t cut out by Clichy and Sidwell got up to head at goal. It hit the outside of the post and dropped behind and it was a warning for City that the job wasn’t done.
With half time approaching, some good work by Tevez on the right flank saw him able to win the ball back from a loose Silva pass and cut it back into Dzeko’s path, after beating Hangeland. The Bosnian striker, though, dipped his effort over the bar, as he looked for the top corner. The blues were ahead at the break, but there was little to inspire the fans.
Early in the second half, Tevez had the opportunity to bag himself a much-needed goal, but he was crowded out inside the Fulham penalty area, as he tried to get a shot away. He’d done well to get there, winning the ball in midfield, but with little support, he wasn’t able to make the most of the opportunity.
The blues lost Zabaleta to injury after he and Hangeland fully committed into a challenge: The City full-back won the home side a corner, but came out worse for wears and had to leave the action early. From that corner, Kompany got up highest in the box to head towards goal. Tevez tried to touch it past Schwarzer, but it dropped kindly for the goalkeeper to collect.
Within minutes City did have their second goal, however. Some neat play on the left flank allowed Tevez to flick to Silva, who burst through for a one-on-one. His deft dink over the goalkeeper struck the foot of the post and dropped into the back of the net. It was the Spaniard’s third goal of the season and second of the game.
A minute later, it should have been his hat-trick. Clean through on the left flank, he drew the challenge from Schwarzer and tried to roll the ball into the far corner of the net, but the effort was inches wide of the post. Finally, City were looking like they could open the floodgates, but the goals just didn’t come.
In the closing stages, both Dzeko and Aguero missed great chances to put the game beyond doubt. First Dzeko shot wide from the edge of the box after a neat touch-back by Silva, before Aguero rounded the goalkeeper, but couldn’t generate the power needed on his left foot to get it over the line. Finally, the Bosnian half-volleyed over from inside the six-yard box after a great cross found him at the back post.
In the end, it was a comfortable win for City, but they will have been ruing their missed chances as good opportunities to improve the goal difference.