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Man City 5-0 Fulham Prem 31 1314 Daily Telegraph

last updated Monday 24th March 2014, 12:13 PM
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Mark Ogden at Daily Telegraph

Man City (1) 5 Fulham (0) 0

Manuel Pellegrini claimed Manchester City remain in a four-way fight for the Premier League title after Yaya Touré's hat-trick laid the platform for a 5-0 victory against Felix Magath's woeful Fulham.

Touré's contribution - two penalties and a stunning 25-yard strike - took the midfielder's tally for the season to 20 goals.

Fulham, rooted to the foot of the Premier League and seemingly destined for relegation after 13 unbroken years in the top flight, struggled to mount any resistance against a City team who moved to within six points of leaders Chelsea - with three games in hand on Jose Mourinho's team - ahead of the clash with United.

But Pellegrini insisted that all four clubs have equal chances of winning the title this season.

"I don't think it is just between Chelsea and City," Pellegrini said. "We must continue because Liverpool are playing very well and scoring lots of goals.

Fulham had their hopes of avoiding defeat snuffed out as early as the 53rd minute following the dismissal of Fernando Amorebieta after he conceded his second penalty of the game with a foul on David Silva.

But despite being without suspended captain Vincent Kompany, the home side recorded a comfortable victory with Touré delivering a match-winning performance before two late goals from Fernandinho and Martin Demichelis.

"It was a complete performance because we kept another clean sheet," Pellegrini said. "We also scored five goals and had some more chances.

"It is important for Yaya how he played, though. He had some criticism earlier this season about not defending well, but it would be very easy for me to tell him not to go forward.

"He is a very important player and it is a big achievement for a midfielder to score 20 goals in a season."

But it was not until the 17th minute that City created their first chance of the game, with James Milner forcing a full-stretch save from David Stockdale following a right-foot shot from close range.

Fulham responded well and former United midfielder Kieran Richardson almost gave the visitors the lead on 23 minutes with a long-range effort.

City had failed to clear Cauley Woodrow's effort and the ball dropped to Richardson, whose powerful shot beat Joe Hart but flashed inches wide of the England goalkeeper's left-hand post.

It was a scare for City and one which finally woke the home side from their slumber, although they took the lead in fortuitous circumstances from the penalty spot two minutes later.

Milner's long ball forward to Alvaro Negredo found the Spanish forward on the edge of the penalty area, but as the striker broke into the penalty area, he went to ground following a challenge by Amorebieta.

With regular penalty taker Sergio Agüero sidelined through injury, Touré confidently stepped up to score the opener.

Amorebieta then ensured the scoreline remained 1-0 at half-time with a header off the line from Silva's chipped effort on 37 minutes before Aleksandar Kolarov struck the crossbar one minute before the interval.

The roof caved in on Fulham early in the second-half, though, when Amorebieta was dismissed for fouling Silva.

From the penalty which followed, Touré once again calmly beat Stockdale to put the game beyond the visitors and allow City to cruise for the remainder of the game.

But rather than conserve their energies in preparation for the derby, City sensed an opportunity to boost their goal difference - a potentially crucial factor in this title race - by pushing Fulham further back.

The home side poured forward in wave after wave of attacks and Touré claimed his hat-trick with a majestic curling strike from 25 yards on 65 minutes.

With the victory safe, Pellegrini subsequently withdrew Touré, Silva and Samir Nasri, but the scoring continued.

Fernandinho scored with a searing near post strike on 83 minutes before Demichelis made it 5-0 with a tap-in from Stevan Jovetic's far post cross three minutes later.

"Until the first penalty it was not bad," said Fulham manager Magath. Unfortunately, when you gift the first penalty, in my opinion it was not a penalty, that gifts City the power.

"The team does not seem to believe we can win after the first goal."

Man City (4-2-3-1) Hart 6; Zabaleta 7, Demichelis 7, Lescott 7, Kolarov 7; Touré 9 (Rodwell 77, 7), Fernandinho 8; Milner 7, Silva 7 (Navas 68, 7), Nasri 7 (Jovetic 82, 6); Negredo 6.
Subs Pantilimon, Clichy, Boyata, Garcia,

Fulham (4-2-3-1) Stockdale 6; Heitinga 3, Hangeland 4, Amorebieta 3, Riise 3; Kvist 3, Riether 4; Richardson 6 (Holtby 55), Sidwell 6, Kacaniklic 5 (Roberts 55); Woodrow 6 (Kasami 84).
Subs Stekelenburg, Karagounis, Zverotic, Bent.

Yellow Card Roberts, Holtby, Sidwell.

Sent off Amorebieta

Referee J Moss (Tyne and Wear)

Attendance 47,262

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