Liverpool 3 Manchester City 2

FA Premier League
Sunday 13 April 2014, 13.37 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Clichy, Toure (Garcia 19), Fernandinho, Navas (Milner 50), Nasri, Silva, Dzeko (Aguero 68)
Unused: Pantilimon, Lescott, Negredo, Kolarov
Goals: Silva (57), Johnson (og 62)
Booked: Garcia, Fernandinho, Zabaleta

Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Man of the Match: James Milner

Hart organises his defence.

Hart organises his defence.

The afternoon at Anfield kicked off seven minutes late as a mark of respect for the 96 fans who lost their lives at Hillsborough in 1989 – and the minutes’ silence was well observed by both sets of player and fans. It was a fitting tribute for the 25th anniversary of the disaster.

The visitors were behind early on and it was the hosts who had put them under pressure from the off. Suarez played a neat through-ball for Sterling to run in behind Kompany and, facing Hart on a one-on-one, side-stepped past the goalkeeper and slotted it into the net. City couldn’t have asked for a worse start.

It was almost two after 15 minutes, as Clichy was too easily beaten by Sterling on the right flank and the youngster whipped in a cross behind the City back four. Kompany couldn’t reach it and Sturridge – free in the middle – side-footed it wide. He was stretching, but should have done better. It did get worse for the Blues, though, as Toure had to leave the pitch injured.

Gerrard should have doubled Liverpool’s lead – and he had done everything but beat Hart, who produced a brilliant reaction save to touch the free header over the bar. But from the resulting corner, Skrtel escaped Kompany and flicked the ball into the net. City had a mountain to climb.

City were denied a penalty on the half hour when Dzeko was brought down by Sahko, but the referee decided there was no foul, as the Bosnian over-egged his fall. It was a poor call from the official. Coutinho should have made it three from a breakaway, but he dragged his shot wide.

Mignolet was then bailed out by Johnson, as he came for the cross and missed it, with Dzeko heading towards the empty goal – the full back nodded off the line and it looped up onto the bar. As City broke back again after Hart claimed the ball back, Navas crossed for Fernandinho to volley, but the goalkeeper got down well to push it away.

With 52 minutes on the clock, Suarez should have been shown his second yellow. Demichelis dived in on the forward, but missed the ball and missed the man, yet the striker dropped to ground clutching his foot. He’d dived, the referee saw it, but didn’t show the yellow card – instead giving a goal kick. He bottled it.

City dug deep and dragged themselves back into the game. A good series of passes worked the opening on the right flank and Milner – via a one-two with Zabaleta – got in behind to square for Silva. The Spaniard dinked the ball into the net, past the desperate dive of Skrtel, who tried to slide it off the line.

The visitors twice came close to equalising minutes after their goal: First Silva caused trouble in the box as Skrtel miss-kicked a clearance, before the Spaniard drilled a low cross towards Dzeko. The Bosnian, though, couldn’t connect as he threw himself at it.

City did get their equaliser, though, just after the hour mark. Silva and Nasri linked up down the left flank and the Frenchman played the Spaniard in. He drilled it into the box once more and it ricocheted off Johnson and sent Mignolet the wrong way – it followed a great challenge by Zabaleta, who won the ball from Sturridge with a last-gasp tackle in the box.

With 15 minutes to play, City were inches away from getting in front. Aguero rolled Skrtel on the left flank and drove towards the box. Instead of taking the shot on, he played it in for Silva in the middle – the Spaniard had to dive to reach it, but he couldn’t turn it into the net.

Two minutes later, though, City hit self-destruct. The Blues were in control of the game, but a throw-in was miss-kicked by Kompany straight to Coutinho. The Liverpool man hit it first time and curled it around Hart into the bottom corner. City had it all to do again.

In stoppage time, the away side were denied a penalty when Skrtel punched the ball clear, before Henderson over-ran the ball and dived in on Nasri as the Blues tried to break again with possession. The Liverpool man went in with a straight leg and was rightly dismissed, but City felt the red card should have come at the start of the second half, not the end – it came too late to change the game.


Manchester City 6 Tottenham Hotspur 0

FA Premier League
Sunday 24 November 2013, 13.30 KO

City: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Nastasic (Lescott 45), Clichy, Navas, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure (c), Nasri (Milner 77), Negredo, Aguero (Garcia 69)
Unused: Hart, Richards, Dzeko, Guidetti
Goals: Navas (1, 90+2), Sandro (og 34), Aguero (41, 50), Negredo (55)
Booked: Toure

Referee: Howard Webb
Man of the Match: Fernandinho

Navas chips Lloris in the opening seconds.

Navas chips Lloris in the opening seconds.

With a tricky fixture following the disappointing result on Wearside, City were looking for a quick start to ease the worries. That’s exactly what they got: Just 14 seconds in, Lloris spooned a clearance straight to Aguero. The Argentine shot and the keeper parried, but it dropped to Navas – he expertly lobbed it over the stranded goalie and in off the post.

Five minutes after dropping behind, the visitors almost responded. Lennon got in behind Clichy and drilled a low ball through the box. Pantilimon could only flick it towards the back post. It fell kindly to Lamela, who played it past the stranded goalkeeper, but couldn’t beat Demichelis on the line.

It was nearly two for City after seven minutes, as Aguero and Negredo combined on the edge of the box. The Spaniard’s flick sent the Argentine through on goal, but his attempted dink over Lloris was brilliantly saved at the last second. The move was like a hot knife through butter.

The City fans wanted a penalty for a sliding challenge by Sandro on Nasri shortly after, but the referee ruled the Brazilian had claimed the ball with the Frenchman through on goal. He had to get the tackle right and he just did. It was from behind, though, so perhaps the visitors were lucky.

The away side were growing into the game, however. Vertonghen hit a free kick straight at Pantilimon and the keeper swallowed it up, before Soldado’s shot bobbled wide when he really should have hit the target. It summed up Tottenham’s game: Plenty of possession, but little end product.

And they were punished for it. Fernandinho nodded another poor clearance from Lloris down to Nasri on the left flank. He found Aguero and the Argentine drew the goalkeeper, before squaring for Negredo. His shot took and double deflection and dropped into the net, going down as an own goal for Sandro.

Five minutes from half time, the Blues added their third. The hosts had raised their game following a series of challenges that went unpunished when the Blues thought there should have been free kicks, and the response was to bury another chance. Zabaleta delivered a perfect cross from the right for Aguero to sweep into the bottom corner.

Aguero tries a dink over Lloris.

Aguero tries a dink over Lloris.

The first action of the second half saw Aguero double his tally. Toure burst free from the Tottenham defence and, despite being pushed and pulled all over the place, he managed to stay on his feet to deliver a ball across for Aguero to smash past Lloris. The game was as good as over, with 40 minutes still to play.

It was getting embarrassing for the visitors, who were almost a fifth down three minutes later. Nasri broke free on the right and, with Negredo and Zabaleta in the box, chose to chip Lloris. His effort had the keeper flapping and he got nowhere near it, but must have been relieved when it bounced clear off the underside of the crossbar.

A brilliant turn on the edge of the area from Negredo was rewarded by another goal. Dawson couldn’t get near to the Spaniard as he worked the ball onto his left foot to set himself up to bend it around Lloris. With just 55 minutes played, City had scored five and Tottenham were like rabbits in the headlights.

Chances began to flow for the hosts, who were looking like they could add as many as they wanted. Zabaleta had a shot blocked over, while a low cross from Navas was almost squeezed in by Nasri. Negredo also nodded over from six yards with a free header, while Toure sidefooted over from the edge of the box.

Fernandinho should have scored his first City goal with ten minutes to play, as Navas drilled the ball into the box and found the Brazilian with time and space. However, the midfielder got his feet tangled up and it bounced behind via both of his shins.

With the game trundling towards full time, the fans had one more goal to send them on their way. Milner produced a brilliant ball over the top for Navas to chase with Dawson. The Spaniard out-paced his marked and raced through for a one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Lloris didn’t stand a chance, and the man who opened the scoring rounded it off.

City have now scored more goals at home this season than any team in the Premier League has scored in total.

Manchester City 7 Norwich City 0

FA Premier League
Saturday 2 November 2013, 15.00 KO

City: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Nastasic, Clichy, Nasri (Milner 71), Fernandinho, Toure (c), Silva (Navas 73), Aguero, Negredo (Dzeko 45)
Unused: Hart, Lescott, Richards, Kolarov
Goals: Johnson (og 16), Silva (20), Nastasic (25), Negredo (36), Toure (60), Aguero (71), Dzeko (86)
Booked: Zabaleta

Referee: Phil Dowd
Man of the Match: Sergio Aguero

Silva takes charge of the break.

Silva takes charge of the break.

With all the talk pre-match about Pellegrini’s decision to leave Hart out of the starting line-up, the number of touches his goalkeeper took must have struggled to reach double figures – as City’s attacking options stole the show. Norwich, it has to be said, were awful; though City were relentless in their offence and took complete advantage.

The opening goal could have come after just 50 seconds, as Zabaleta crossed towards the near post and Bassong stepped in ahead of his goalkeeper to deflect the ball behind. Nasri went close on the quarter-hour mark as he struck the post after dancing through the Norwich box.

It was a stroke of good fortune that saw the ball cross the line for the first time, though: Silva’s original shot was blocked and it bounced to Aguero, who prodded it towards goal. It ricocheted back away from danger before striking Johnson and looping over Ruddy and into the net.

There was no doubt over the second goal four minutes later – a decisive breakaway by Aguero saw him keep possession inside the Norwich box and wait for support to arrive. It did in the form of Silva, who received the layoff and powered it into the net. It went through Ruddy’s dive, who would have been disappointed.

If Ruddy was to be disappointed with the second goal, he would have felt worse about the third: A corner from the right wing was curled onto the head of Nastasic. He nodded towards goal – via a flick off Martin – and it dropped into the bottom corner at the goalkeeper’s near post. He got two hands on it, but couldn’t keep it out.

The game was over a mere ten minutes later. Aguero – who was offside, it has to be said – latched onto a through pass from Toure to smash a low cross towards Negredo in the centre. The defender slid in to try and prevent the goal, but the Spanish forward powered it into the net.

On the stroke of half time, the clean sheet was preserved by a good save from Pantilimon, low and to his right. It opened up nicely for Pilkington through the middle and his shot from the edge of the box needed touching around the post.

It was nearly five before the break, following a mazy run from Aguero and a turn and shot from Toure. This time, however, Ruddy got two hands to the ball and held it. It was looking very worrying for the visitors.

The second half – perhaps understandably – got off to something of a slow start. City were content to keep the ball and try to work an opening, while the visitors still appeared shellshocked from the first 45 minutes. They should have scored when Demichelis gave away possession cheaply, but Elmander missed the target.

On the hour mark, though, Toure stepped up with another special as he netted from another free kick. Just to the left of the box, he curled it over the wall and straight past the dive of Ruddy to make the home side’s total for the day hit five.

With just under 20 minutes to play, the Blues added a sixth goal and finally it was Aguero’s name on the scoresheet. His performance had deserved one, rather than a list of assists, and he latched on to a loose ball inside the box to volley straight past Ruddy.

Navas came close on 80 minutes, as he forced a good save from the Norwich goalkeeper as he raced clear from everybody to half-volley a bouncing through ball. It was touched around the post by the goalkeeper, who must have been wondering where his defence were.

Ruddy denied more embarrassment for the visitors as he reacted quickly when Demichelis tried to scoop a deflected Toure free kick towards the goal. It spun free into the box and the centre-back turned to prod it towards the line, but the keeper pounced to keep it out at the second attempt.

Finally, City did break their Premier League record goalscoring tally just four minutes from time. A low ball into the box found Dzeko with his back to goal and his neat turn and shot found the bottom corner, past Ruddy’s despairing dive.

With all the headlines before the game about the goalkeeping situation at City, the biggest story of the day was how embarrassing the scoreline could have been for the visitors. City scored seven for the second time ever at the Etihad.

Manchester City 3 Everton 1

FA Premier League
Saturday 5 October 2013, 12.45 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c) (Nastasic 34), Lescott, Kolarov (Clichy 58), Toure, Fernandinho, Silva, Milner, Aguero (Nasri 79), Negredo
Unused: Pantilimon, Richards, Navas, Dzeko
Goals: Negredo (17), Aguero (45), Howard (og 69)
Booked: Kompany, Milner, Zabaleta, Silva, Fernandinho

Referee: Jon Moss
Man of the Match: David Silva


Hart saves from Lukaku.

Ah, Everton at home. A write-off. A game City never win. Always a dull affair, that the visitors win by the odd goal. But maybe things have changed? The Toffees – under a brand new manager – have changed their style of play and are now more open and far less kick-and-rush. And, for the first time in a long time, the fans were treated to an entertaining match.

It was clear the away side were much changed from previous visits as the match opened with some end-to-end play. The first real chance fell to Toure, who smashed a shot from the edge of the box and Howard pushed it away, dealing well with the bounce right in front of him. Kolarov side-netted a free kick, convincing fans on the far side it was in, before Everton replied: Lukaku was close to rounding Hart, but the England keeper blocked the effort well.

But a disastrous offside trap from the hosts present the Belgian striker with a chance to open the scoring. A ball over the top landed nicely for Lukaku and he brushed Lescott aside to set up a one-on-one. His shot was low and hard, and Hart got a hand to it, but couldn’t keep it out. It was a difficult save, but he might feel he could have done better.

It took 92 seconds for the hosts to respond. In fact, following City’s kick off after conceding, the only Everton player to touch the ball before the equaliser was scored was Howard: It was neatly slotted through for Negredo to face him one-on-one and the shot clipped the keeper on its way into the net.

With 22 minutes played, City were close to going in front, as the frantic start showed few signs of slowing down. A corner on the right flank was played short by Milner and returned back to him by Silva. The England international’s cross was deflected onto the outside of the post.

Four minutes later and the home side should definitely have been in front. A free kick on the left flank was taken short by Toure and a neat flick between him and Silva put Aguero through on goal – but he missed, shooting wide of the far post on a one-on-one with Howard.

But there was a sting to come for the home fans. With nobody near him, Kompany went down and there was concern from his fellow defenders. The physios came on and the captain limped off – with concerns of his recent groin and thigh problems returning.


Aguero celebrates his goal.

Another gilt-edged opportunity was missed by the hosts and, once more, it was Aguero: Uncharacteristically he took an airshot when clean through on goal, following a brilliant tackle by Negredo on Distin. It looked like it wasn’t going to be his day, as he volleyed wide from the left side of the box.

Never one to let his head drop, though, Aguero did get his goal and right on the stroke of half time. Silva played a brilliant slide-rule pass through for the Argentine to set him through on goal. Having missed two one-on-ones already, he buried the third, planting it neatly into the bottom corner. City went in at the break with the advantage.

Early in the second half, City were forced into another substitution, as Nastasic and Kolarov clashed. Both needed treatment, but the left back wasn’t able to continue, leaving the pitch for stitches to a head wound. It was a start to Blues in the wars – as Zabaleta soon needed attention to a cut above his eye.

If City fans were still smarting about some of the decisions leading to goals at Villa Park, though, they will have been relieved to see one go for the Blues just before the 70 minute mark. Zabaleta got the wrong side of Coleman and was nudged slightly. The full back went down easily and the referee pointed to the spot – but it was probably the wrong decision.

Aguero stepped up and forced the goal, but missed the penalty. His shot was tipped onto the post by Howard, but the Everton goalkeeper could do nothing as the ball bounced back onto his head and into the net. It’ll go down as a missed spot kick for the Argentine, but he’d done enough to get the Blues a two-goal advantage.

With that goal, the game began to slow down. City were content to keep possession and keep moving the Everton back line around without really threatening, while the visitors seemed to accept that their unbeaten start to the season was coming to a close.

A solid win in the end for the Blues and a good response to the last week.

Norwich City 3 Manchester City 4

FA Premier League
Saturday 29 December 2012, 15.00 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Nastasic, Clichy, Y Toure, Barry, Nasri, Silva (Milner 57), Aguero (Garcia 90), Dzeko (Lescott 81)
Unused: Pantilimon, K Toure, Sinclair, Tevez
Goals: Dzeko (2, 4), Aguero (50) Bunn (og 67)
Booked: Clichy
Sent Off: Nasri

Referee: Mike Jones
Man of the Match: Sergio Aguero

Norwich1 It couldn’t have been a better start for the visitors, whose campaign was revived at Carrow Road last season, as Dzeko put the blues ahead inside two minutes. Aguero found Silva and he slid the ball into Dzeko inside the box, and the Bosnian finished coolly from eight yards. And, just a couple of minutes later, it got better for the striker, who had his second goal: Kompany put in a great tackle to set himself up on a blistering run forward. He found Aguero, who rounded the goalkeeper and squared for Dzeko to slot into the empty net.

But, immediately, the hosts had a goal back. Kompany was wrongly penalised for a foul on the edge of the box and Norwich had a free kick. Pilkington hit it and it took a deflection off Clichy’s ankles, leaving Hart with no chance as the ball rebounded into the net. There was nothing the blues could do and they were harshly pegged back.

With 15 minutes gone, City wanted a penalty for a challenge on Aguero inside the box. The City man was trying to reach a deflected ball and was seemingly brought down as he tried to stand, but there was nothing doing from the referee. It had been a blistering start to the game and it had slowly begun to develop to a steady pace.

Garrido almost did his old side a favour with 23 minutes on the clock as Aguero broke through the Canaries back line. The Argentine cut back to get his shot in but lost possession and the left-back scooped the ball back towards his goal. But for a good save by Bunn, he would have put through his own net.

It was good defending from Garrido on 34 minutes, though, as Dzeko was looking for his hat-trick. Yaya Toure played a brilliant ball wide to Zabaleta, who headed back across goal towards the Bosnian. The former City full-back, though, was there first to nod behind for a corner. From that flag-kick, Kompany’s header at goal was blocked by Snodgrass on the line. A Dzeko turn and run nearly got him his third, but he tried too much and, perhaps, should have gotten the shot away sooner, as the ball ran through to Bunn.

A neat move on the edge of the Norwich box five minutes before half time almost had the blues their third goal. Barry and Silva combined to move the hosts’ defence, before Yaya Toure found a pocket of space to shoot on the volley. Bunn was beaten, but so was the far post, as the effort fizzed inches wide.

Norwich2Tempers flared two minutes later as Bassong followed through on Nasri and the Frenchman reacted to the challenge. The Norwich man saw yellow, but the City man saw red, much to the annoyance of the blues fans. Both players reacted the same way, and if one was sent off, so should the other. But that wasn’t how the assistant saw it, leaving the visitors down to ten men and the hosts not.

City started the second half offensively, looking to do the damage early on. The first real chance of the half found the net, too – Yaya Toure played a great ball over the top and Aguero spun the defender to break into the area. One-on-one with Bunn, he lifted the ball cutely over the oncoming goalkeeper and into the net.

It could have been another for City almost immediately after, as Aguero broke into the Norwich half. He beat one man, before squaring for Yaya Toure to shoot, but the Ivorian’s effort was deflected over the bar. The resulting corner was aimed at Kompany, but he couldn’t get there first and it was well cleared.

With the hour approaching, Aguero could have had his second and City’s fourth. Yaya Toure played a ball through the middle for the Argentine to run on to and a slip by Martin let him in on goal. He checked back to beat the covering defender, but his side-footed shot was deflected and the power was taken out of it, leaving Bunn to collect easily.

Howson almost responded for the hosts. A shot from range had Hart at full stretch and the resulting quick corner caught the visitors out. A cross deep was nodded by by Bassong and Martin was unmarked to head the cut-back into the net. It was slack defending from the blues and they were punished for it. The ten men still had work to do.

City, though, quickly restored their two goal advantage. Dzeko was just onside from a long ball by Clichy and he took it down brilliantly to set up a one-on-one. His strike at the near post was saved by Bunn, but the rebound smashed into the upright and off the back of the goalkeeper to sneak into the net. A stroke of luck, but the visitors won’t care.

A minute later and City could have had five: Aguero did brilliantly to keep the ball under two challenges from the Norwich back line and spin into the box. There, he chipped the goalkeeper, but the effort could only hit the side netting. Despite having gone down a man, City were still looking threatening.

Norwich3Nevertheless, it was the home side who pulled another goal back. Hart didn’t punch a corner away and the ball fell in the box for a Norwich shirt to shoot. Nastasic blocked, but the rebound fell to Martin and he smashed it back in. Hart couldn’t react and it deflected off him into the top corner, bringing the home side straight back into the game.

Aguero could have restored City’s two goal advantage with eight minutes to play. After some brilliant footwork from Yaya Toure, the Ivorian found the Argentine in the box. He spun and shot for the top corner, but Bunn turned it over the bar brilliantly. In stoppage time, Aguero had the chance to steal the game but his shot was easily swallowed up by Bunn after the striker did superbly to keep the ball.

City were able to see out the game and take the win, but they weren’t helped by some dreadful refereeing decisions that make the task much more difficult.

Porto 1 Manchester City 2

Europa League Round of 32, Leg One
Thursday 16 February 2012, 20.05 KO

City: Hart, Richards, Kompany (c), Lescott, Clichy, Barry, de Jong, Silva (Kolarov 83), Y Toure, Nasri (Zabaleta 88), Balotelli (Aguero 78)
Unused: Pantilimon, Savic, Pizarro, Dzeko
Goals: Pereira (OG 55), Aguero (85)
Booked: Y Toure, Kompany, de Jong, Barry, Nasri, Richards

Referee: Cuneyt Cakir
Man of the Match: Joleon Lescott

It was a typically slow start to the first leg of a European tie, with Porto seeing more of the ball in the attacking third than City, but neither side able to test the opposition’s goalkeeper. Yaya Toure burst into the box, but his cross was blocked, before Hulk couldn’t grow enough to beat Richards in the air at the back post. Rolando almost opened the scoring on 15 minutes, but Clichy was there to nod the effort over the bar, as the hosts stepped up the pressure.

Toure was brought down in the middle of the Porto half as he broke, winning City a free kick. Nasri chipped it into the box towards Balotelli, who missed it. But the goalkeeper spilled it and the Italian was almost able to connect with the rebound, but couldn’t quite readjust. Richards smashed the clearance at goal and forced a good save from Helton, before Nasri should have opened the scoring with a one-on-one shot from the edge of the box.

With 27 minutes played, the hosts got themselves in front, just as it had looked like City had ridden the storm. Hulk smashed the ball across the box and Clichy couldn’t get there ahead of Varela and the striker stabbed it into the net. Hart was unlucky after getting a leg on the ball, but it wasn’t against the run of play.

Immediately, Balotelli should have levelled the game. He was clean through on goal after a delightful ball from Nasri, but his turn and volley was well pushed away by Helton. With the amount of time and space the Italian had, it should have been City’s equaliser. Clichy put a great ball into the box for Balotelli with just under five minutes of the first half to play, but first he then the goalkeeper missed it and Silva was inches from making it even.

A neat flowing move from City as the first action of the second period saw Barry find Silva, who, in turn, found Richards on the overlap. The full back powered into the box and smashed the ball at goal. It beat Helton, but it didn’t beat the post, as it ricocheted away to safety. Balotelli was then almost slipped in by Nasri, but he couldn’t quite take it in his stride.

Ten minutes into the second half, City pulled level. Pereira flicked the ball past his own goalkeeper under a challenge from Balotelli, after Nasri had played a ball over the top towards the Italian’s run. Helton had come for the ball, but got nowhere near it and the ball trickled into the empty net off the full-back’s shoulder. Hart was then in action to deny Hulk from a free kick.

A series of Porto free kicks came to nothing, after the referee got a bit card happy, penalising nothing challenges with bookings. Richards was just offside as he tried to latch on to a Nasri through ball, before Valera skied an effort from the edge of the box. A brilliant tackle from de Jong then denied Hulk the chance to collect a return pass inside the area.

With five minutes of the game to play, City took the lead with their second away goal. Yaya Toure was played through into the area and drew the goalkeeper. He squared the ball for Aguero, who was faced with an open goal and couldn’t miss. He didn’t, rolling the ball over the line to give City the advantage. It was enough to give City a lead after the first leg.

Manchester City 3 Fulham 0

English Premier League
Saturday 4 February 2012, 17.30 KO

City: Hart, Richards (c), Savic, Lescott, Kolarov, Barry, Nasri (Milner 55), A Johnson (Pizarro 90), Silva, Aguero (de Jong 80), Dzeko
Unused: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Clichy, Rekik
Goals: Aguero (pen 11), Baird (og 31), Dzeko (72)
Booked: Kolarov

Referee: Mike Dean
Man of the Match: Adam Johnson

It was the home side who got off to the better start, controlling the ball and looking for the early opening. It almost came as Aguero found a neat ball through for Dzeko, but the big centre-forward couldn’t find the net from just inside the area. And, as City dominated possession, they earned their breakthrough: Johnson was tripped in the box by Baird and Aguero slotted the penalty home.

If the Fulham fans were hoping that the goal might have woken their side up, they would have been bitterly disappointed, as, from the restart, the game carried on in much the same vein. Johnson appeared to be tripped in the box once again, but this time the referee wasn’t interested and pointed for a goal kick. Davies had a go at City’s goal, but his effort was weak and straight at Hart, before Silva curled a shot past Schwarzer’s far post.

Johnson tricked his way inside from the right flank and looked to curl a shot inside the far post, but it was just wide again, before Duff hit an effort at Hart’s goal, but the England keeper didn’t need to make a save. It was an isolated attack from the visitors, but, at just one goal behind, the visitors were always in the game.

However, just after the half hour, Baird’s evening got worse. A Kolarov cross missed everybody in the box, but it was rescued by Johnson on the right flank. He crossed the ball back with pace and it hit the Fulham defender on the knee, leaving Schwarzer stranded and City two goals in front. The home side could have had another penalty almost immediately, as it looked like Silva was felled in the box by Etuhu, but, again, the referee played on.

A sweeping City move on the break from a Fulham corner almost made it three: Aguero got his shot in, but Schwarzer parried and Johnson was offside from the rebound. It then took Hangeland’s toe to prevent a Dzeko effort troubling the goalkeeper, as City did the same again with a swift move from the back.

Fulham came out fighting for the second half and were on top for the opening ten minutes. Despite their pressure, though, they weren’t able trouble Joe Hart. To get more of the ball for his side, Roberto Mancini introduced Milner to the game and, as the snow began to fall heavily, the hosts wrestled control back, just after the first of the two stoppages while the groundsmen cleared the markings on the pitch.

Hart held on to a Murphy free kick, as the ball skipped through his wall, before Kolarov clipped a similar free kick over the bar at the other end. Silva almost made it three, but his close range effort was blocked and City couldn’t force the ball over the line, as the visitors hung on.

But their resistance was soon broken: Aguero carried the ball into the box and looked like he was going to fire a shot at goal. Before he pulled the trigger, though, he slide it to his right for the waiting Edin Dzeko, who made no mistake in finding the back of the net. The game was beyond doubt and City were well in control.

A deflection inside the City box could have given the visitors a consolation goal, but the ricochet bounced off the post and Richards was able to smash the ball clear. The full-back then stole the ball in the centre of the pitch and ran at Hangeland. He tried to take it around the Fulham centre-back, but his shot dribbled wide of the post. The final action of the game saw Hart make a great save from Riise to preserve the clean sheet.

City had opened up a gap at the top of the table once again and would be watching Sunday’s games with great interest.