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Man City 5-0 Fulham Prem 31 1314 Daily Mail

last updated Monday 24th March 2014, 12:06 PM
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Joe Bernstein at Daily Mail

Man City (1) 5 Fulham (0) 0

Who needs top strikers when Yaya Toure is on the prowl?

With Sergio Aguero injured and Edin Dzeko unwell, the midfield Ivory Coast powerhouse took responsibility for snuffing out Fulham's challenge single-handed and grabbed his first hat-trick in English football with two expertly-taken penalties and a trademark piledriver from outside the penalty area.

It took the 30-year-old's tally past the milestone of 50 goals for Manchester City and more importantly kept them on the heels of Jose Mourinho's Chelsea in the title race with Fernandinho's powerful late strike and a tap-in for Martin Demichelis the icing on the cake.

City still trail the leaders by six points but have three games in hand. The next two matches this week, biggies away to Manchester United and Arsenal, could be critical.

As for bottom-of-the-table Fulham, they are four points adrift of safety having played more games than their relegation rivals. Their performance suggested they haven't given up yet but their home game against Everton on Sunday is beginning to take on the look of do-or-die and they will be without defender Fernando Amorebieta, sent off on Saturday for the second of the spot-kicks he conceded.

For Pellegrini, it was a welcome return to the scoring form City showed earlier in the season with United lying in wait on Tuesday night.

'It was a complete performance with a clean sheet as well. I wasn't worried in the last month about scoring because we were still creating chances but to get a good win is always important for the next match.

'Yaya was being criticised for his defensive work earlier in the season but it's not easy to score 20 goals. It would be easy for me to tell him to stay back all the time but it's important to get him forward and play the way he does.

'With Yaya, this team doesn't just depend on one striker. If a striker doesn't score, we have other players who can.'

Dzeko rang in sick in the morning but City hope it's a short-term bug and he will be alright for Old Trafford.

Alvaro Negredo was named City's sole striker due to the absence of others while City hoped the absence of suspended skipper Vincent Kompany wouldn't harm them at the other end.

Negredo, nicknamed the beast, is a pain in the backside for defenders and the description proved apt as City went ahead after 26 minutes.

Amorebieta allowed the striker to get goalside and inadvertently kicked him in the buttocks as he tried to clear a long punt.

Negredo needed no second invitation and after a long pause referee Jon Moss - perhaps aware that City had already been denied two penalty shouts against Steve Sidwell - pointed to the spot.

Venezuelan Amorebieta escaped with just a yellow card but Fulham were punished enough moments later when Toure cooly wrongfooted David Stockdale from the spot.

Fulham's manager Felix Magath thought the penalty award was wrong. 'There was contact, sure. But for me, it was not a penalty,' he said.

'It was the moment we lost the game. Until then, we had been doing well but after that we lost confidence.'

Fulham rallied spiritedly given their position in the table. Richardson sent a fizzer wide while the young workhorse Callum Woodrow missed with a header.

Even so, City had all the big individual weapons. Silva's clever dink was headed off the line by Amorebieta and Aleksandr Kolarov made the crossbar shake from Milner's lay-off.

The game was settled after 54 minutes, Silva was too quick for Amorebieta as he latched onto Milner's pass and was clearly tripped.

The South American was sent off and Toure rolled in his second penalty with the ease of his first.

Magath accused his side of caving in with 10 men. 'We lost a player but that is no reason to stop playing,' he said. The German said it calmly but you can bet the point was made far more forcefully within the confies of the dressing-room.

Toure then saved his best til last, curling a 25-yard drive from the edge of the area past Stockdale's despairing dive to reach 20 goals for the season, Pellegrini then hooking him and Silva for rest ahead of Tuesday's sterner test at Old Trafford. But with Fulham wilting, it still proved shooting practise against 10-man Fulham.

Fernandinho burst forward to hit the roof of the net to make it 4-0 and Fulham's was summed up when Stockdale saved well from substitute Stevan Jovetic and the ball rebounded straight to Demichelis a couple of yards out.

It was the Argentine's first City goal and judging by the ovation at full-time, the noisy neighbours are in good nick to face United.

Manchester City: (4-1-4-1) Hart 6; Zabaleta 6, Dimichelis 6, Lescott 6, Kolarov 6; Fernandhino 7; Milner 8, Toure 8.5 (Rodwell 76mins 6), Silva 7.5 (Navas 63mins 6), Nasri 7 (Jovetic 81mins 6); Negredo
Unused subs: Pantilimon, Clichy, Boyata, Stevan

Goals: Toure 26 (pen), 53 (pen), 65, Fernadhino 84, Dimichelis 87

Fulham(4-3-3): Stockdale 5.5; Heitinga 6, Hangeland 6, Amorebieta 4, Riise 5; Riether 6, Kvist 6, Sidwell 6; Kacaniklic 6.5 (Roberts 54mins 6), Woodrow 6.5, (Kasami 83mins 6)Richardson 5.5 (Holtby 54mins 6).
Unused subs: Stekelenburg, Zverotic, Karagounis, Bent

Booked: Amorebieta, Sidwell, Roberts, Holtby

Sent off: Amorebieta

Referee: Jon Moss 6

Attendance: 47262

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