By William Wood | In Match Reports - Away Games
Manchester City brought Fulham back down to earth with a thud as they secured a 2-1 victory at Craven Cottage, with Micah sitting out due to a minor knock.
Roberto Mancini’s men had the brightest start of the two teams, with Roque Santa Cruz setting up Carlos Tevez for a drive from 25-yards which Mark Schwarzer did well to tip wide, whilst the Paraguayan saw a tame header equally denied by Fulham’s stopper.
It looked to be going City’s way in the early stages but the hosts went close to grabbing the lead as Zoltan Gera diverted the ball over Shay Given only for Kolo Toure to make the clearance on the line, and they were left to rue the missed opportunity as Santa Cruz edged the away side in front.
Craig Bellamy’s deflected shot struck the post but fortunately fell into the path of the advancing forward who in turn made it 1-0 with a tapped finish, and any hopes of Fulham emulating their midweek heroics against Juventus appeared to be hopeful.
If the Cottagers thought City would let up having taken the lead they were mistaken as Tevez continued the assault, forcing Shwarzer into another clever save with a low drive, and the Argentinian striker was to be rewarded for his efforts minutes later.
Having played the ball out to Bellamy, he continued his run, collected the ball, turned inside Chris Smalling and fired home for his 22nd goal of the campaign, leaving Roy Hodgson furious on the touchline.
It was much the same in the second half, with Adam Johnson striking the outside of the far post with a low, left-footed effort, and Bellamy’s neat touch and shot had Fulham’s stopper scambling only for the ball to drift just wide.
As has been the case frequently this season for the Eastlanders, just as they looked comfortable Fulham were handed a lifeline. The ball struck Gareth Barry’s hand in the box and Danny Murphy kept his nerve to convert the spot-kick and make it 2-1.
Nigel De Jong should have put the game out of sight when he was handed a chance late on, but his weak shot was collected by Schwarzer, demonstrating exactly why the Dutchman has yet to open his account for City.
The final whistle was eventually blown as Mancini’s men claimed an invaluable three points in their hunt for the Champions League spot, whilst Fulham will have to pick themselves back up as they embark on their own European adventure over the coming weeks.
Fulham: Schwarzer, Baird, Hughes, Smalling, Konchesky, Duff, Murphy, Etuhu, Davies, Gera, Zamora. Subs: Zuberbuhler, Kelly, Shorey, Okaka, Riise, Dempsey, Greening.
Man City: Given, Zabaleta, Toure, Kompany, Lescott, A. Johnson, Vieira, Barry, Bellamy, Tevez, Santa Cruz. Subs: Taylor, Onuoha, Ireland, Wright-Phillips, Garrido, Sylvinho, De Jong.
Fulham: Murphy (75’) pen
Man City: Santa Cruz (7’), Tevez (36’)