Date:Sunday March 21 2010
Manchester City put added pressure on their rivals and head closer to fourth spot after a 2-1 win against Fulham at Craven Cottage. Goals from Santa Cruz and Carlos Tevez had put City 2-0 before Danny Murphy added a penalty for the home side to add an anxious 15 minutes.
After Fulham`s remarkable achievement midweek in the Europa League, they faced a difficult test against a Manchester City side who were hoping to catch Tottenham in the Champions League spots. Roy Hodgson`s small squad could have seen this fixture as a possible step too far after the mental and physical draining they endured.
It is never easy to predict which Manchester City side will turn up, especially away from home. City would be hoping for a similar performance to Stamford Bridge, however, against the lower sides we have been far too complacent. For the majority of the encounter the travelling fans- who were set for a potential boycott- would have been watching in awe as City looked determined and in full throttle. Fulham were struggling to match City`s tempo, the attacking threat was potent as we continuously sliced open a struggling back-line.
The quick exchange between the players was majestic, the speed, anticipation and support play allowed City to mount several goal-scoring opportunities. Two of which were taken in the first half. Roque Santa Cruz reacted first and slotted home after Craig Bellamy`s shot took a touch of Schwarzer and hit the upright. The fiery Welshman- who has had a phenomenal season- was also involved in the second goal. His brilliant linkup play with the Argentine Tevez allowed the latter to strike home after he jinked past the Fulham defenders.
The chances continued to fall regularly to City and they kept their 2-0 for the majority of the encounter. The second half started no differently, Fulham looked weary and drained as was expected and City were rightly capitalising as they produced a spectacular performance. City`s attacking threat was continuously coming from the likes of Bellamy and Johnson as they allowed Tevez and Santa Cruz to add to their tally. Johnson struck the post and Santa Cruz forced a great save from Schwarzer as the chances were coming thick and fast.
Roberto Mancini has had his critics for a lacklustre tempo and lethargic set-up but was slowly proving his critics wrong. The counter attacking was excellent, the threat we were posing continuously could have easily put City 4-0 ahead, but Fulham were resilient and remained in touching distance as City spurned several fantastic opportunities.
A rare lapse of concentration that resulted in a harsh penalty, allowed Fulham to have their first serious chance of the game. Danny Murphy stepped up and resumed his normal service as he slotted home. The pendulum drastically swung, instead of continuing at out blistering tempo, City retreated and invited unwanted pressure. Despite looking drained all game, Fulham were resurgent, a new lease of life entered them and they came very close to gaining an undeserved draw. Okaka and Dempsey were proving a handful, the two target men continued to press but their chances were thwarted by a desperate City side that had looked so comfortable.
The chances proved "Too little Too late" as City held out and grabbed a deserved away win in difficult circumstances.
For Fulham they don`t want to get off this rollercoaster ride and again proved sturdy opposition. The fourth spot is still there for the taking and after weekend wins it looks like ourselves and Tottenham are the most likely to enter that coveted fourth spot.
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Date:Sunday March 21 2010
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