FA Premier League
Saturday 29 September 2012, 15.00 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Clichy, Kompany (c), Nastasic, Barry (Nasri 76), Y Toure, Garcia (Dzeko 86), Silva, Aguero, Tevez (Balotelli 66)
Unused: Pantilimon, Lescott, Kolarov, Milner
Goals: Aguero (42), Dzeko (87)
Referee: Mark Halsey
Man of the Match: David Silva
City had the better of the opening stages, controlling the early possession, but it was the hosts who were given the best chance to take the lead. Riise stepped inside Zabaleta on the left flank and went down and the referee pointed for a penalty. There was minimal contact from the City defender, who flicked the Fulham man with his hand, and it was outside the box. It was a dubious decision, but Petric didn’t concern himself with that and sent Hart the wrong way from the spot.
The visitors tried to respond as Aguero worked his way into the box and delivered a low ball across for Tevez. The Argentine, though, couldn’t generate enough power with his shot to trouble Schwarzer. It could have been worse for City moments later, as Rodallega broke down the left and squared for the unmarked Petric, but his effort was high and wide.
On 25 minutes, the visitors had a golden chance to be level. Tevez picked up the ball on the left wing and cut inside. He crossed from deep, over the heads of everybody in the box, into the run of Zabaleta coming around the back. He volleyed it back across goal to try and set-up a team-mate, but nobody could get the vital touch and Hangelaand was able to clear.
Aguero could have gotten the visitors back on terms from their first corner of the game, as Garcia flicked the ball to the back post and the striker had a free header – but he hit the side netting. Clichy stung the hands of the goalkeeper with a cross-come-shot, after Silva and then Barry had built up another attack for the away side.
Fulham almost went two goals up on 37 minutes and it would have been against the run of play. Rodallega hit the wall with a free kick, before Ruiz hit the side netting. At the other end, it could have been an equaliser as Zabaleta squared the ball and Tevez tried to squeeze it over the line. A combination of Schwarzer and his defenders, though, kept it out on the line. Silva then smashed a shot into the goalkeeper and it was scrambled away.
Three minutes before half time, City were level and it had been coming. Tevez smashed a shot at goal from the edge of the box, but skewed it horribly. It deflected into the area and Silva stabbed it towards goal. Schwarzer saved it, but he could do nothing about the rebound from Aguero, who slid it into the empty net.
The second half got off to a much slower start, but it was City back in control of the game. Hart had come to collect a pair of corners, while Silva floated a free kick over everybody in the box. Aguero could have put the visitors in front with a header on the hour mark, as he flicked it towards goal, but it curled agonisingly away from the far post, with Schwarzer left standing.
A corner from Silva caused the home side problems, but it got stuck under Tevez’s feet and the Argentine couldn’t force it towards goal. Schwarzer managed to block it behind for another flag kick. This time, though, the goalkeeper scooped it away and Hangelaand cleared to safety.
With 20 minutes to play, Balotelli had his first effort on goal from deep. He picked the ball up in midfield and turned to curl a shot at the near post, but it didn’t threaten Schwarzer, flashing wide. That followed a Zabaleta effort on his left foot from the edge of the area, but that was slightly too high. City were doing all the pressing.
A good save from Hart kept the scores level a couple of minutes later, as Rodallega held the ball up well for Fulham. Zabaleta blocked the initial cross into the box, but the clearance from the middle when it did go in was only as far as Kacaniklic. He smashed it for the corner, but Hart pushed it away.
Balotelli smacked a free kick into the wall, after Aguero was brought down 30 yards out from goal. With five minutes to play, Roberto Mancini went from broke, taking off Garcia and introducing Dzeko: It worked immediately. Clichy whipped the ball into the box and it was flicked to the middle where Dzeko turned and smashed the ball into the top corner, giving the visitors the lead with three minutes to play.
It was a tough game for City, but they were always in control of the match. City looked back in the groove.