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Fulham 2-4 Man City Prem 17 1314 Mirror

last updated Monday 23rd December 2013, 9:56 AM
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Mike Allen at The Mirror

Fulham (0) 2 Man City (2) 4

So now we know. We know Manchester City can win without Sergio Aguero.

We know they can win when the conditions are vile. And we also know they still have a frailty on their travels.

They were given a fright by much-improved Fulham at Craven Cottage, but in the end the firepower averaging three goals a game earned them a third win on the road this season, with substitute Jesus Navas bursting through and drilling the ball home in style to put his side back in front after they had blown a 2-0 lead.

Joe Hart made his first league appearance since October 27 and England boss Roy Hodgson will be delighted he made two excellent, sharp saves as City collected their eighth win in nine games in all competitions.

But for manager Manuel Pellegrini the concerns about his team, who this morning are a point behind leaders Liverpool, remain.

Pellegrini said: "The Premier League games are always close, especially when home teams are in bad positions in the table.

"We knew it would be difficult. Before they scored for 2-1, we had three or four chances to score and when you miss so many the other team often scores. We had some bad luck for their second goal, it was unbelievable, but it was important for us to recover.

"At 2-2, they were playing better than us, we were nervous and not doing the right things."

Fulham were without Dimitar Berbatov, who suffered a groin injury in training and Rene Meulensteen opted for Adel Taarabt in the lone role up front. But it was in midfield, where Fulham outnumbered City, that they caused the visitors big problems and early on Hart needed a strong left hand to keep out Taarabt's shot.

However, when they did get within sight of goal, City looked dangerous and David Silva had already hit the bar with a rasping shot before City went ahead.

The danger was clear when Steve Sidwell fouled Silva inside the 'D', but Yaya Toure's nonchalant stride up to the ball disguised a brilliant free-kick that went up and over the wall before clipping the underside of the bar on its way in.

Another Hart save, this time down low to his right, denied Taarabt again, but a lack of concentration gave City more breathing space.

Martin Demichelis ran round the back of the Fulham defence unnoticed as Silva delivered a free-kick and although Maarten Stekelenburg saved his header, Vincent Kompany was on hand to stab home his first goal of an injury-hit season.

Fulham, though, fully deserved the ovation they received as they went off at half-time and got their reward five minutes after the interval with a classic breakaway goal.

Taarabt outpaced Gael Clichy in a race from half-way and squared a perfect pass into the path of Kieran Richardson to fire Fulham back into the game.

The Cottage was bouncing, and Fulham were in full stride when Sascha Riether made a perfectly-timed run to receive Scott Parker's pass. His poor cross fell at the feet of Kompany, only for the City skipper to slice his clearance and send the ball looping over Hart.

Kompany said: "If you want to be a defender, that is what you sign up for and for a second you feel very alone if this happens."

But just as another entry into their catalogue of away-day horrors appeared set to be written, Giorgos Karagounis, who had been excellent in midfield, dithered over a bouncing ball, and within moments it was nestling in the net after Silva's pass found Navas to finish clinically.

And the two-goal advantage was restored when Alvaro Negredo's early cross with the outside of his left boot evaded Fernando Amorebieta and James Milner finished with the first league goal scored for City by an Englishman this season.

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