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MATCH REPORT ~ Fulham beaten by Man City ~ Prem MD29 20/21

last updated Monday 15th March 2021, 11:40 AM

Match Report

Fulham (0) 0-3 (0) Manchester City

Premier League Match Day 28 at Craven Cottage

Saturday 13th March 2021    KO: 20:00

Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)

Live on BT Sports

Match Stats Fulham Man City
Goals (0) 0 3 (0)
Scorers - Stones 47
- Jesus 56
- Aguero pen 60
Goal attempts 3 8
On target 0 7
Shooting Accuracy 0% 0%
Possession 46% 54%
Passes Success 81% 86%
Corners 4 2
Tackles Success 40% 53%
Saves 4 0
Fouls 14 13
Offsides 1 3
Yellows 0 0
Reds 0 0
source: SkySports
Fulham Head Coach Scott Parker sported his lucky blazer again at Craven Cottage. It is a soft, quilted item, a snug fit that he wears over a gilet.

It makes him look a little as if he should be holding a glass of Pimm’s and cheering on a crew at the Henley Royal Regatta but after last night, it may never see the summer. Sadly for him and his team, the luck got sucked out of it against Manchester City. All it got him and his relegation-threatened side was a dressing down.

On the eve of the game, City’s manager Pep Guardiola had smiled when it was suggested that Parker was his sartorial equal. ‘He is younger,’ he said. ‘He has hair. He is better than me. I accept a draw.’

That last bit would only have been true if this had been a fashion show but unfortunately for Fulham, it was a football match and City were in no mood to accept a share of the spoils.

After a goalless first half, the runaway league leaders overpowered Fulham with three strikes in the 15 minutes after the interval and the game was over.

It was City’s 13th consecutive away victory in all competitions and moved them 17 points clear of Manchester United at the top of the table. They need 14 points from their last eight games to be sure of the title. They are cruising.

This was a good night for them in every way. They rested a galaxy of first-choice players and still won comfortably and Sergio Aguero scored his first Premier League goal since January 2020 with a penalty to end a dispiriting spell. ‘To score goals is everything for him,’ Guardiola said later. John Stones, City’s best player in south-west London, and Gabriel Jesus, got the other goals in the 3-0 win.

If City are still in the hunt for four trophies, Fulham’s eyes are fixed only on the prize of staying in the top flight and this result left their position unchanged.

Newcastle, who lost on Friday night, and Brighton are still very much in their sights and they played well enough in the first half to suggest there is still plenty for them to be optimistic about.

‘We have a big test now,’ Parker said after the match. ‘Our season won't be defined against a side like Man City, who are the best team in Europe and in this division. Now, as always, we re-group, learn from the mistakes, take the positives and go again."

West Brom’s defeat at Crystal Palace earlier in the day had all but confirmed that only Fulham of the bottom three have a realistic chance of escaping relegation and they went into the match still brimming with the confidence that came with beating Liverpool at Anfield last weekend and basking in the glory of that for the last six days.

Fulham started the game well, alive and bright and on the front foot. One early ball from Ivan Cavaleiro, swung in from the left flank with the outside of his right boot, behind the City defence and into the path of Ademola Lookman, was a thing of beauty, spoiled only by the fact that Lookman had strayed marginally offside.

It was City, though, who forged the first clear chance. Joao Cancelo slipped a neat ball through to Ferran Torres inside the Fulham box in the 17thminute and even though Torres was clean through on Alphonse Areola, his shot was weak and too close to the Fulham goalkeeper, who saved it easily. It was an opportunity wasted.

But even if City began to dominate the ball, even if Stones looked wonderfully assured in possession every time he glided forward from the back, City were not playing with their usual fluency.

Their final ball was poor, Aguero was close to anonymous, Torres struggled to make an impact, Gabriel Jesus seemed unsure how to link best with Aguero.

City must make a decision on Aguero’s future soon. He is 32, he will be out of contract in the summer and he has not scored in the Premier League for 14 months. That statistic does not take into account a bout of Covid-19 and an absence through a hamstring injury but many feel that his time at The Etihad may be coming to an end.

That decision will be complicated by Aguero’s status at the club. He is a City legend. Many believe he is the greatest player who has ever worn the club shirt, others that he is the greatest foreign player to have graced our league. He is, incontrovertibly, the greatest goalscorer in the club’s history and the man who scored the goal that won them the title in 2012.

But he has only started four games for City this season and, before this match, had only played for 171 minutes since returning to fitness on November 23. City are being more and more strongly linked with high profile replacements like Atletico Madrid’s Joao Felix, Harry Kane of Spurs and Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland.

Aguero led City out at Craven Cottage but he struggled to find space to make an impact in the first half. He was largely starved of service and it is the nature of his game that he can explode into a match in a moment but he cut a disconsolate figure when he trudged off at half time with the score goalless.

The second half was less than two minutes old when City took the lead. Gabriel Jesus was fouled on the left and Joao Cancelo curled the free kick into the box with his right foot. It was a superb delivery and when the Fulham defence allowed it to bounce, Stones forced his way through the crowd to meet it and stab it past Areola.

Stones celebrated with gusto. It is not the first important goal he has scored this season – it was his fourth in the last ten league games - and it was another staging post in the impressive renaissance that has seen him re-establish himself in the City side and put himself back at the front of the queue when Gareth Southgate, who has left him out of the England reckoning recently, is selecting his defenders for the European Championships this summer.

City might have gone further ahead a few minutes later when Bernardo Silva wriggled his way past several challenges near the corner flag and laid the ball back invitingly into the path of Rodri on the edge of the area. Rodri had time to measure his shot but he could only drill it straight at Areola who parried it away.

It was only a brief reprieve for Fulham. Ten minutes into the half, City went two up. Cavaleiro played Joachim Andersen into trouble and when Andersen stretched to tackle Gabriel Jesus, the ball rebounded off Cavaleiro into the path of the City forward. Jesus dribbled round Areola and smashed the ball into the net.

Five minutes after that, the league leaders put the game out of reach. Torres ran at Tosin Adarabioyo and when the two came together and Torres fell, the referee pointed to the penalty spot. It seemed like a harsh decision but it was Aguero’s chance. He stepped up and lashed it past Areola. His long goal drought was over at last.

Fulham: Areola, Tete, Andersen, Adarabioyo, Aina, Anguissa, Reed, Lemina (Onomah 73), Loftus-Cheek (Mitrovic 63), Cavaleiro (Robinson 80), Lookman.

Unused substitutes: Fabri, Hector, Ream, Bryan, Maja, Kongolo,

Mancester City: Edersen, Stones, Laporte, Dias (Garcia 75), Cancelo, Silva (Fernandinho 67), Rodrigo, Mendy, Torres, Aguero, Jesus.

Unused substitutes: Steffen, Walker, Gundogan, Zinchenko, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Foden,

Stones 47 (Silva's curling free kick from the left-hand touchline finds Stones - who beat Fulham's offside trap - to side-foot home the opener, just one minute and 16 seconds into the second half.)

Jesus 56 (Awful mix-up at the back between Cavaleiro and Andersen allows Jesus a clear run on goal and faced with just the onrushing Areola to beat, the Brazilian keeps his cool to jink past the 'keeper, before firing home into the empty net for his 12th goal of the season.)

Aguero pen 60(Adarabioyo tries a back flip, but gets it all wrong, allowing Torres to gain possession and the Spaniard is barged over in the box and that is a spot kick. Aguero steps up to side-foot home the penalty into the bottom left-hand corner of the net, despite Areola diving the right way. The VAR takes a look at that spot kick after a suggestion Aguero had hit the ball twice there, but they decide he had not and the goal stands.)

Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)

Attendance: 0

Source Oliver Holt at Daily Mail
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