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Fulham 1-3 Man City: Cottagers slide towards drop

last updated Monday 09th April 2007, 9:51 PM
Carlos Bocanegra
Carlos Bocanegra scores again

Fulham were jeered off at Craven Cottage as a 3-1 defeat pushed them to the edge of the relegation pack and virtually ensured Manchester City's own Barclays Premiership survival with a third consecutive away win.

City boss Stuart Pearce saw his side resist hectic Fulham pressure with cool aplomb and then strike through Joey Barton, DaMarcus Beasley - in the first half - and Darius Vassell to add to their triumphs at Middlesbrough and Newcastle.

Fulham boss Chris Coleman left with the boos of the crowd ringing in his ears. They had chanted 'Coleman out' at the interval and those who remained to the bitter end after Carlos Bocanegra dragged a goal back from a corner let him have it again at the final whistle.

Fulham started so promisingly, with Simon Davies driving a Wayne Routledge pass just wide and Alexey Smertin forced a spectacular reaction save from Andreas Isaksson with a 25-yard drive.

But they were 2-0 down after 35 minutes as City ripped through with some clinical counter-attacks.

Barton's blast left goalkeeper Antti Niemi helpless after 20 minutes after Emile Mpenza turned provider following two goals in four previous starts.

Then DaMarcus Beasley, in for Stephen Ireland, finished just as powerfully when Barton teed him up.

Beasley was back helping in City's defence when he fouled Routledge and earned the game's first booking. When Davies swung over the free-kick it was Heidar Helguson, given a rare start, who jumped highest at the far post but headed just wide.

Match Stats Fulham Man City
Goals 1 3
Possession 56% 44%
Goal attempts 14 7
On Target 5 5
Corners 7 4
Off-sides 0 9
Fouls 12 15
Yellows 1 3
Reds 0 0
source: Soccernet/SkySport

On 42 minutes, though, it took a fine save by Niemi to prevent City scoring a third goal. Full-back Nedum Onuoha was first to meet Michael Johnson's free-kick and his goalbound effort demanded a superb save at the expense of a corner.

It was largely huff-and-puff fare at the start of the second period and playmaker Smertin lasted only 10 minutes of it before he was replaced by Tomasz Radzinski.

Fulham were already missing key figures like Franck Queudrue, Papa Bouba Diop and Claus Jensen.

Coleman also sent on on-loan striker Vincenzo Montella, but the Italian - four goals in just two starts before a sending-off against Tottenham in the FA Cup - had hardly been on the pitch two minutes when Fulham handed Vassell a third City goal.

Mpenza was again at the heart of a smart breakaway, but Liam Rosenior, in an unaccustomed left-back role, should have easily cut out his pass down the right.

Instead, he stumbled and Vassell raced in to notch his fourth goal of the season - and first in the league since November.

With 11 minutes left big centre-back Bocanegra offered Fulham a ray of hope with a scoring header from a Davies corner - his second goal in two games - but it was inevitably too little too late to save the Cottagers from another damaging defeat.

Fulham: Niemi, Volz, Christanval, Bocanegra, Rosenior, Routledge (Dempsey 73), Smertin (Radzinski 55), Brown, Davies, McBride, Helguson (Montella 58).
Subs Not Used: Lastuvka, Knight.

Booked: Bocanegra (90, f).

Goals: Carlos Bocanegra 76, headed goal, top-right of goal. Assist (cross/corner)by Simon Davies.

Man City: Isaksson, Onuoha, Distin, Dunne, Ball, Jihai, Johnson, Barton, Beasley (Sinclair 81), Vassell (Samaras 85), Mpenza.
Subs Not Used: Weaver, Dabo, Trabelsi.

Booked: Beasley, Vassell, Barton.

Goals: Barton 21, Beasley 36, Vassell 59.

Att: 22,435.

Ref: S Bennett (Kent).


Source soccernet
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