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Fulham 2-4 Man City Prem 17 1314 Daily Mail

last updated Monday 23rd December 2013, 9:54 AM
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Mark Ryan at Daily Mail


Fulham (0) 2 Man City (2) 4


Joe Hart's nightmare appears to be over, though his captain, Vincent Kompany, may not have slept so easily last night after scoring one of the most comical own goals of the season.

It was just as well Kompany, with blood trickling from a cut above his eye, had already scored at the right end to contribute to what became a typically chaotic Manchester City victory.

His team-mates are so full of goals that bizarre defensive lapses scarcely seemed to matter on Saturday.

Yaya Toure scored with another exquisite free-kick, Kompany poked home the second, then substitutes Jesus Navas and James Milner secured the points all over again after Kieran Richardson's clinical strike had preceded the City captain's embarrassing slice.

Manuel Pellegrini's team have scored a remarkable 51 Premier League goals this season and their poor defending often pales into insignificance.

As for Hart, he has impressed his manager at last. 'He deserved his chance and, the way he played today, he deserves to continue, too,' said manager Pellegrini.

Those words will be music to Hart's ears, though Pellegrini gave himself a way out.

'We don't know what will happen in the future,' he said.

Put simply, if Hart plays well, the place is his. No wonder he was last to leave the pitch and seek shelter from the driving rain.

The goalkeeper hugged Pellegrini and his backroom staff, then turned to City's large travelling army because he had heard their reassuring chant.

'England's No1,' they sang, just as they had at the start of what must have been a nervous afternoon for a man left out of so many big City weekends of late.

Nobody was happier than Hart by the time referee Kevin Friend blew the final whistle.

He knew he could not have been blamed for either Fulham goal. He also made two fine first-half saves, stretching low to deny Adel Taarabt in some style.

There was the odd rusty moment, such as when he looked slow to react to Aleksandar Kolarov's cushioned return and the ball bounced on for a corner.

But Hart should now feel confident that his World Cup dream is no longer under threat as long as his form holds.

Fulham pushed City all the way in a wonderful match that was played in dreadful conditions.

Edin Dzeko set up David Silva, who rattled the bar. Then Steve Sidwell fouled Silva and Toure's free-kick swerved out then back in, hit the underside of the bar and found the net.

Just before half time City landed what looked like the killer blow. Silva delivered a set piece, Martin Demichelis headed goalward, Maarten Stekelenburg pushed the ball away and Kompany lunged in for his first goal of the season.

But Fulham refused to accept they were beaten and struck back after 50 minutes.

Demichelis wandered on to the wrong side of his man, Taarabt raced clear and crossed through Kompany's legs for Richardson to finish easily.

Then came the moment Kompany would prefer to forget. Sascha Riether centred and the City defender sliced into his own net with Hart stranded.

'After you win, maybe you can laugh,' said Pellegrini, who was clearly relieved to avoid more away day blues. 'It would be hard to repeat what happened.'

City stepped up a gear. The irrepressible Silva found a perfect pass to release Navas, who fired through Stekelenburg's legs.

But even that was outdone by a pass from Alvaro Negredo with the outside of his left boot, which allowed Milner to complete City's escape from the perils of their own nonchalance.

Spirited Fulham were finally overwhelmed.

'The same story,' said their manager Rene Meulensteen, remembering similar reverses of late.

'We have been positive with great energy but it has not led to what we deserved.

'The games coming up are important and we can take a lot of encouragement from this.'

Fulham: Stekelenburg 5; Riether 6, Senderos 5 (Amorebieta 37, 5), Hughes 6, Riise 6; Karagounis 7 (Bent 82), Parker 7, Sidwell 6; Richardson 6, Dejagah 7 (Kasami 65); Taarabt 6.
Subs Not Used: Ruiz, Kacaniklic, Stockdale, Duff.

Scorers:
Richardson 50, Kompany og 69

Booked: Karagounis.

Man City: Hart 6; Clichy 6, Kompany 6, Demichelis 6, Kolarov 6; Nasri 7 (Milner 75), Fernandinho 7, Toure 8, Silva 7 (Garcia 84); Dzeko 6 (Navas 58, 7), Negredo 7.
Subs Not Used: Javi Garcia, Rodwell, Pantilimon, Boyata, Guidetti.

Scorers:
Toure 23, Kompany 43, Navas 78, Milner 83.

Booked: Demichelis.

Referee: Kevin Friend.






















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