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Man City 3 0 Fulham Prem24 Mail

last updated Monday 06th February 2012, 10:30 AM
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Man City (2) 3 Fulham (0) 0

It took a contentious penalty to get them up and running but Manchester City put a January of cup failures and Premier League mediocrity firmly behind them with this evisceration of Fulham in the Etihad Stadium snow.

Goodness, did it tip down.

By the end of the night, the white stuff was settling on the grass and making the surface skiddy, not that Adam Johnson could use that as an excuse for his theatrical tumble that led to the opener.

He made the very most of Chris Baird's leg being vaguely in his vicinity when he went down in the Fulham box in the 10th minute.

Mike Dean pointed to the spot on the basis of minimal contact and Sergio Aguero placed his kick high and right.

Baird was also integral to City's second - scoring an own goal - before a second-half strike by Edin Dzeko completed the scoring on a bitter night when the hosts kept warm by running rings around their visitors.

City's resultant three-point lead at the top of the Premier League table means Manchester United will be playing catch-up as they meet Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

But Mancini said: 'Manchester United are not under pressure.

They are used to always staying there.

They are like us.

We know we are fighting against fantastic teams.

' City's serial setbacks last month included Premier League losses on the first and last days of January - to Sunderland on the 1st and to Everton on Tuesday - as well as being eliminated from both domestic cups.

The FA Cup holders were ousted by United before Mancini's men were bettered by Liverpool over two legs in the Carling Cup.

'We have had a month in which we have had some disappointments,' Mancini conceded in his programme notes, yet he insisted on trying to accentuate the positives.

'We go into this game top of the league, the team that everyone else has to pass and wants to pass,' he wrote.

He acknowledged that he had got some things wrong in the Everton defeat, but added: 'There is a sense of determination and positivity about the whole group and the whole club.

' His attempt to right the wrongs of Tuesday's defeat involved bringing in Johnson, Aleksandar Kolarov and Stefan Savic for James Milner, Gael Clichy and Vincent Kompany.

Johnson and Kolarov both played roles in the goals.

City's tempo was high from the start.

Aguero's second-minute through ball slid into the path of runner Dzeko, whose attempted chip was gathered by Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.

Gareth Barry had a shot blocked and Dzeko shot over the crossbar before the fortuitous penalty.

Johnson did well to make progress into the area but his fall was more of a dive than deserving of a goal.

Dean did not see it that way and Aguero converted to a cacophonous reception.

Cue 'the Poznan', appropriate on an evening when the weather was decidedly mid-winter Poland - indeed chilly and Chile combined late on when David Pizarro, as a substitute, became the first man from that country to play for City.

Fulham manager Martin Jol said: 'I was surprised at the penalty but, if you look at it again, maybe Johnson did well.

I had a few players in the past who did that.

We all tried it when we were younger.

' Fulham responded to going behind with their two best efforts of the first half.

Neither threatened.

A long-range shot from Clint Dempsey went wide and Simon Davies' shot was saved by Joe Hart.

With Dzeko as a spearhead and a three-man support force of Johnson, David Silva and Aguero interchanging with darting runs and crisp passes behind him, City took control.

Silva and Aguero played a one-two that climaxed with a snatched shot from the left of the penalty area that flew wide right of the goal as Silva faced it.

City extended the lead with a move that included a decisive ball from Kolarov on the left flank in the 30th minute.

It evaded half a dozen players in the area and was met on the far side by Johnson, who hit it back into the mix.

It deflected off Baird and left Schwarzer with no chance.

Micah Richards, captain for the game in place of the injured Kompany, then skipped past Davies on a long dash down the right, keeping his footing in the snow on the byline to poke the ball across goal.

Fulham's Philippe Senderos turned it alarmingly fast towards his own goal, but Schwarzer held.

Dzeko then set up Aguero, who had a shot smartly saved and Silva hit the rebound over the bar.

Dzeko's next shot was deflected to safety by Brede Hangeland but the pressure was maintained throughout, intensifying as the game wore on.

City's third goal was scored in the 72nd minute from a move started on the left by a short pass from Milner - on for Samir Nasri - to Aguero, who dribbled for 30 yards into the box before laying it off to his right where Dzeko finished.

Fulham's recent record at City in the league had been brilliant before last night: three wins, four draws and just one defeat in their last eight games there.

But January is over.

City are back on song.

Man City Hart, Richards, Savic, Lescott, Kolarov, Nasri (Milner 54), Barry, Silva, Johnson (Pizarro 90), Aguero (De Jong 80), Dzeko.
Subs Not Used: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Clichy, Rekik.

Booked: Kolarov.

Goals: Aguero 10 pen, Baird 30 og, Dzeko 72.

Fulham Schwarzer, Kelly, Hangeland, Senderos (John Arne Riise 73), Baird, Davies, Murphy, Etuhu (Ruiz 68), Duff, Dembele (Gecov 85), Dempsey.
Subs Not Used: Stockdale, Kasami, Hughes, Frei.

Booked: Senderos (67,f), Dembele (75, ub), Baird (85,f).

Att: 46,963

Ref: Mike Dean (Wirral).

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