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Fulham 1-2 Man City Prem06 1213 Daily Mail

last updated Monday 01st October 2012, 10:01 AM

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Ian Ridley at Daily Mail

Fulham (1) 1 Man City(1) 2

Crisis cancelled - for this weekend, anyway.

Edin Dzeko came off the bench, scored within a minute and Manchester City had done what champions do: find a way to win from adversity.

After falling behind to Mladen Petric's disputed penalty, City struggled for rhythm and penetration but Sergio Aguero scored his first goal of the season and Dzeko poached the winner three minutes from time.

While deserved, it was not entirely convincing, though, in keeping with City's patchy start to the season that had seen them fail to win their previous four matches.

They are the first champions of the Premier League era to concede goals in each of their first six matches and Roberto Mancini's premature assertion that they will retain their title looks far-fetched.

Had Fulham possessed enough energy in the second half to repeat their early attacking prowess - of which they had plenty, even without Dimitar Berbatov - City looked ripe to wobble again.

Mancini was not complaining, mind, except about the penalty, after Pablo Zabaleta had baulked John Arne Riise, continuing his early-season gripes about decisions going against his side.

'It was not a penalty,' the Manchester City manager insisted.

'It was not a foul and it was outside the penalty area.

But the players kept calm and played good football.

'We had a lot of possession, a lot of chances and we should have scored more goals.

We wanted this victory and we deserved it.

' The game got off to an explosive start, with referee Mark Halsey - who must have been hoping for a quiet afternoon following Liverpool v Manchester United last weekend - at the centre of the action.

Chris Baird swung out an expansive pass for Riise and as he turned inside Zabaleta the Uruguyan put a hand across him to halt his run.

Mr Halsey ruled penalty - for a silly offence but an offence nonetheless and one few referees are brave enough to award.

Fulham manager Martin Jol said: 'If you are playing for Fulham you would say it is a penalty.

If you are a Manchester City player, it was soft.

' After Petric had driven home the kick, Fulham's confidence rose.

They might have had a second when Hugo Rodallega crossed for Petric but the Croat scooped his shot over.

Joe Hart then held Riise's low 35-yard piledriver of a free kick.

City bayed for a penalty of their own when Carlos Tevez claimed he was tugged by Riise but Mr Halsey was not buying that one.

The resulting sense of injustice served to galvanise City, however, and where it had been Brian Ruiz running the show for Fulham from just behind spearhead Petric, now David Silva was getting more on the ball as Yaya Toure imposed his muscular frame on the game.

First Zabaleta put in a low cross that Aaron Hughes almost turned into his net, Mark Schwarzer intervening on the line.

Then, just before the interval, came the equaliser.

Tevez sent in a crossshot that Silva turned goalwards.

Schwarzer turned it aside but only to Aguero, who had a simple tap-in.

The second half was oneway traffic, City passing and probing, Fulham unable to get the ball off them.

It became an absorbing contest as Fulham pressed and closed down, the visitors growing increasingly desperate.

The winner looked to have come when Aguero glanced a header from Zabaleta's cross but just wide.

Mancini threw on Mario Balotelli, then Samir Nasri - and finally, and decisively, Dzeko.

Clichy crossed from the left, Balotelli's goalward header was weakly cleared by Riise to Dzeko and the Bosnian lashed the ball into the roof of the net.

It was his sixth goal as a substitute since the start of last season.

'We can't complain because they are a world-class team and we held them for 87 minutes,' said Jol.

'They were stronger than us and more eager to score.

' Now City turn to the Champions League, with Borussia Dortmund visiting on Wednesday.

After the last-gasp Real Madrid defeat, the City powers that be will want to see a win or that crisis might just be threatening to assail them again.

Such is the level of expectation now.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Riise, Hangeland, Baird (Karagounis 81min), Hughes, Riether, Sidwell, Duff, Petric (Kacaniklic 66min), Ruiz, Rodallega
Subs not used: Stockdale, Kelly, Briggs, Smith, Kasami

Goals: Petric 10

Man City: Hart, Kompany, Zabaleta, Clichy, Nastasic, Garcia (Dzeko 86min), Barry (Nasri 76min), Silva, Y Toure, Aguero, Tevez (Balotelli 66min)
Subs not used: Pantilimon, Lescott, Kolarov, Milner

Goals: Aguero 43, Dzeko 87

Referee: Mark Halsey

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