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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
22 March 2014
• Etihad Stadium, Manchester
Referee: J. Moss
• Attendance: 47262
Y. Touré 26', 54', 65'
M. Demichelis 88'
My name's Ben Cullimore and it's been a pleasure describing the action to you today. Have a great weekend!
Manchester City's emphatic win today has set up a wonderful end to the season, which will no doubt see us treated to one of the most exciting battles for the title in recent memory. I can't wait!
After a poor first half by their usual standards, Manchester City came out for the second half looking like a completely different team, and, with the help of an Amorebieta red card, absolutely demolished a Fulham side that are running out of time to try and save their Premier League status. The Cottagers were finding it tough with 11 men on the field, and Amorebieta's dismissal left them with little hope of staging a comeback. They tried their hardest to keep the defeat to a minimum but Manchester City were just too strong for them, exhibiting to everyone exactly why they are one of the favourites to win this season's Premier League title.
FT: MANCHESTER CITY 5-0 FULHAM
90' + 2'
Yellow Card Lewis Holtby
90' + 2'
Negredo misses a sitter! Sidwell gets on his knees to try and head the ball back to Stockdale just in front of goal but he barely makes any contact with it, allowing Negredo to power past and fire on goal, but his attempt somehow goes wide of the post. He won't get many better chances than that!
90' + 1'
They may have already scored five goals, but that hasn't stopped Manchester City from pressing forward in the hope of scoring a sixth.
The fourth official has indicated that there will be three minutes of added time.
Goal Martín Demichelis
Goal! Now Demichelis has joined in the fun. Stockdale stops a Jovetic effort on goal with his feet but the ball bounces into the path of the Argentinian, who is able to poke the ball into the back of the empty net from a yard out. After receiving a lot of criticism this season, that goal will mean so much to Demichelis, who celebrates with a wide smile on his face. 5-0!
Great save by Stockdale! Milner and Rodwell connect for a wonderful one-two just inside the Fulham penalty box but Milner's shot on goal is stopped by a brilliant low save by the Fulham goalkeeper.
Assist James Milner
Goal! Fernandinho, like Toure for his third goal, finds himself in so much space on the edge of the penalty area, allowing him to calmly compose himself before launching a rocket of a shot into the roof of the net. Fulham's day keeps getting worse and worse. 4-0!
Jovetic, who hasn't featured for Manchester City in over a month due to injury, replaces Nasri for the final eight minutes of the game. This could be a wonderful chance for the Montenegrin to score his second league goal of the season.
Another corner for Manchester City, which Nasri sends into the box, but it safely drifts over the heads of both those in blue and those in red, rolling out of play for a Fulham goalkick.
Fulham are enjoying a brief spell of possession, which almost results in a chance on goal. Sidwell beats the offside trap and connects well with a lofted pass forward, but his touch is too heavy and the ball bounces safely into the hands of Hart.
Navas darts in and out of the Fulham defence on the right hand side of the pitch before sending a low cross towards the box, but it's blocked and goes out for yet another Manchester City corner. Demichelis climbs high and connects with the ball with his head, but his attempt is cleared off the line by one of the many outstretched Fulham legs.
Hat-trick hero Toure leaves the field to a standing ovation and is replaced by Rodwell. The Ivorian has played wonderfully from start to finish today.
Now it's Fulham's chance to attack, for one of the first times this half. They uncharacteristically push forward and win a corner, which Riise tries to send into the heart of the Manchester City box, but it's easily dealt with and the hosts embark on an attack of their own.
Chance for Kolarov! The Serbian finds himself in acres of space 25 yards out and fires a swerving shot towards Stockdale, who has difficulty dealing with the shot but is just about able to punch the ball away from goal.
The hosts stylishly put together a string of wonderful passes, before Milner attempts to side foot the ball past Stockdale. Heitinga gets in the way, however, and deflects the ball out for a corner.
Manchester City are full of confidence as the majority inside the Etihad urge them on in the hope of seeing more goals. With Fulham in such a difficult position and Manchester City playing some beautiful football, how many goals can the title hopefuls score in the remaining 20 minutes?
Jesús Navas González
Riise gives away a free kick in a dangerous position just outside the penalty area on the right hand side. Nasri sends the ball in but it fizzes just past Toure's head, denying him a fourth goal of the game.
Yellow Card Patrick Roberts
Goal Yaya Touré
Assist Samir Nasri
Yellow Card Steve Sidwell
Kolarov attempts to test Stockdale from 30 yards out, but it causes the Englishman no problems whatsoever and he is able to watch it roll well wide of his left post.
Milner is involved in another Manchester City attacking movement. This time the ball ends up with Negredo mere feet away from Stockdale, but Heitinga is there to steal the ball from the Spaniard, before launching it away from danger.
Manchester City win a corner, which Silva plays short. He receives the ball again before passing the ball back to Milner on the edge of the penalty area, who weaves around two Fulham defenders before firing the ball just over the crossbar.
17-year-old Roberts pushes forward for the first time in the Premier League, beating Zabaleta in the process. Even the Manchester City fans seem impressed with the youngster's efforts.
Manchester City seem content to just pass the ball around the centre of the field, sensing that Fulham are deflated and lacking any belief in their chances of getting back into the game. However, with the visitors down to ten men, the hosts have a great chance to improve their goal difference, which may be vitally important come the end of the season.
Magath has decided that a shake up is needed if they are to avoid going further behind. Richardson makes way for Holtby, whilst English teenager Roberts comes on for Kacaniklic to make his Fulham debut.
Penalty Goal Yaya Touré
Goal! Toure places the ball in an almost identical place to the first penalty to double the hosts' lead. 2-0!
Red Card Amorebieta
Penalty! It's not been a good day for Amorebieta, and he might have ruined Fulham's chances of coming away from the Etihad with any points. This time he hacks down Silva in front of goal, resulting in a red card from referee Jonathan Moss.
Fulham win a free kick and Riise floats the ball in. The ball pinballs around the heads of several players before Manchester City win a free kick of their own.
Holtby is doing a rather vigorous warm-up on the side of the pitch. Fulham could do with his skill and intelligence if they are to fight their way back into this game.
Manchester City have started the brighter of the two sides, with Fulham looking a little sleepy, particularly in defence. Silva darts into the box and tries to set up another attempt on goal, but Riether is there to put his body in front of the ball, much to the relief of the Fulham faithful.
Toure sends forward a wonderful long ball towards Nasri, but it's cut out by Heitinga who does well to deny the Frenchman a chance on goal.
And we're off again!
It will be interesting to see if either side make any chances ahead of the start of the second half. Manchester City are without a number of their key players due to injury and suspension, but do possess the likes of Navas and Jovetic on their bench. Fulham, meanwhile, impressed going forward on a few occassions during the first half, so Magath might be interested in bringing on either Holtby, Bent, Karagounis or Kasami to shake things up a bit.
It hasn't been a vintage display by Manchester City by any means. Although they have had to deal with a very defense-minded Fulham side, it can be argued that they have been sloppy on the ball at times, particularly at the back, and, with 69% of possession, have spent too long on the ball in the middle of the field and have squandered their chances in the final third. However, they will pleased enough with the 1-0 goal lead, but changes will need to be made if they are to avoid a possible Fulham comeback after the break.
HT: MANCHESTER CITY 1-0 FULHAM
45' + 2'
Fulham push forward for one last attack before half time. Woodrow knocks the ball back to Riise on the left wing and the Norwegian sends a high ball towards the Manchester City goal, but it's too close to Hart and he is easily able to guide the ball into his hands.
There will be two minutes of added time.
Chance for Kolarov! Manchester City calmly work their way forward, taking the Fulham defence by surprise, before Milner sets up Kolarov, who fires towards goal but sees his attempt ricochet off the crossbar.
Things have slowed down slightly as Manchester City seem willing to see out the rest of the first half with their one-goal lead. Fulham, however, look desperate to carve out a chance on goal to give them hope of a second half comeback.
Very patient play by Manchester City, who are having to deal with a Fulham side that are playing extremely deep to handle the intensity of their opponent's attacking movements.
After 38 minutes, Fulham finally win their first corner of the game, after Lescott is forced to clear the ball out of play. It's whipped in and finds Amorebieta, who once again is called upon to use his head, but the contact isn't great and it clears the crossbar.
Chance for Silva! Fulham lose possession and Manchester City embark on a counter-attack, which results in Fernandinho setting up Silva on the edge of Fulham's penalty area. The Spaniard beats Stockdale with a cheeky chip but Amorebieta is on the line to deny a goal with his head.
Manchester City are constantly finding so much space down the right hand side of the pitch. Again, they take advantage of the holes in Fulham's defence and calmly pass the ball around the sea of red shirts that are desperately trying to defend, before setting up Negredo with a chance on goal, but he tugs Hangeland's shirt as he attempts to muscle his way into the penalty area and concedes a free kick.
Manchester City are caught in possession, allowing Richardson to dart past Demichelis before chipping a deft ball into the penalty area towards Riether at the back post. The German jumps high, beating Kolarov, and makes contact with the ball with his head, but it flies just wide of the goal. Poor defending by the hosts.
Free kick for Manchester City after Amorebieta concedes another foul, this time against Silva 30 yards out. The hosts decide to play it short and pass the ball calmly around before it reaches Zabaleta on the right flank, who fires a low cross in to the middle of the box, but Fulham have a multitude of bodies back to cut out the danger.
The heavens have opened and the rain is lashing down. Fulham will feel hard done by with regards to that penalty decision, and now they have the weather to deal with as they search for an equaliser.
Yellow Card Amorebieta
Penalty Goal Yaya Touré
Goal! Toure steps up and calmly slots the ball past Stockdale and into the bottom left-hand corner of the goal. 1-0!
Penalty! Amorebieta brings down Negredo from behind with a high boot to the Spaniard's lower back. It looks like a soft decision, however, and the Fulham players, and fans, are not happy.
Encouraging signs for Fulham. Woodrow finds himself with the ball at his feet on the edge of the box and he fires a shot towards goal, which Lescott throws his body in front of to block. It bounces out to Richardson whose long-range effort beats Hart, but also beats the post, much to the Manchester City goalkeeper's relief.
Milner fouls Richardson 25 yards out, allowing the Fulham midfielder a shot on goal from the resulting free kick. However, the wall stays strong and blocks the attempt.
Fulham push forward and carve out one of their best opportunities of the game so far, but they can't find a way through the wall of blue shirts and are pushed back towards the halfway line.
Chance for Milner! Fulham fail to clear a dangerous ball that's whipped into the box from the left and it falls to the Englishman on the edge of the penalty area, who decides to half-volley it towards goal. Stockdale gets down low and saves the attempt well, before the ball is finally lashed away and out of play.
Fulham are having to rely almost solely on counter-attacks to get themselves anywhere near Manchester City's half of the pitch. However, the home side are holding firm and refusing to allow them through.
Another penalty shout for Manchester City, again involving Sidwell. Milner runs into the box and the Fulham defender sticks out his foot, seemingly making contact with Milner's leg and not the ball. Again, nothing is given.
Kacaniklic brings the ball down with a deft touch and darts forward through a sea of blue shirts, but he is eventually cut out and the attack breaks down.
The hosts take advantage of space down the right flank once again and win a corner after Milner's attempted cross is blocked. The ball is sent into the heart of the box and seems to strike Sidwell's hand, bringing with it cries from the home fans, but nothing is given.
Wonderful play by Manchester City almost sets up a chance on goal. After a plethora of passes between the Sky Blues' forwards on the edge of the Fulham box, Milner sets up Zabaleta who whips in a cross in front of goal, but Stockdale is on hand to cut out the danger and collect comfortably.
Silva walks gingerly off the pitch after receiving treatment, but it looks as if he will be able to continue.
Silva rushes forward on a Manchester City counter-attack but is tackled from behind brilliantly by Riether to stop the attack. However, the Spaniard is down on the floor injured, which has forced the home fans into a nervous silence.
Richardson wins the ball in the middle of the pitch and unleashes Riise down the left hand side of Manchester City's penalty area, but Demichelis rushes over and dispossesses the Norwegian before clearing the ball back into Fulham's half of the field.
Manchester City try and embark on an early attack but Negredo, while chasing down a long ball forward, fouls Riise from behind near Fulham's right corner flag, resulting in a free kick for the visitors.
And we're off! Fulham get us underway, attacking from right to left.
It's a grey day in Manchester as the players make their way onto the pitch. There are just a few minutes to go until kick off, so don't go anywhere!
As for Fulham, they will be hoping to keep the momentum going after their impressive, and much-needed, win at home to Newcastle last Saturday. Boss Felix Magath has made just two changes for today's clash, with Riise and Riether coming in for Kasami and Holtby, who both drop to the bench.
After Chelsea's 6-0 hammering of Arsenal earlier, victory today is vital for Manchester City if they are to keep the pressure firmly exerted on the current league leaders, so it is no surprise that Manuel Pellegrini has named a strong starting 11. The Chilean has made four changes to the side that won 2-0 away to Hull City last weekend, with Lescott and Kolarov replacing Clichy and the suspended Kompany, whilst Milner comes in for Garcia in midfield and Negredo is picked ahead of Dzeko up front.
Fulham substitutes: Stekelenburg, Holtby, Karagounis, Zverotic, Roberts, Bent, Kasami
Fulham starting line-up: Stockdale; Heitinga, Amorebieta, Hangeland, Riether; Kvist, Sidwell; Riise, Richardson, Kacaniklic; Woodrow
Manchester City substitutes: Pantilimon, Garcia, Navas, Rodwell, Clichy, Jovetic, Boyata
Manchester City starting line-up: Hart; Zabaleta, Demichelis, Lescott, Kolarov; Fernandinho, Toure; Silva, Nasri, Milner; Negredo
First, let's have have a look at how the two teams will line up, starting with the hosts...
Good afternoon and welcome to the live text commentary of today's Premier League game between Manchester City and Fulham at the Etihad Stadium. My name is Ben Cullimore and I will be guiding you through all of the action. It looks as if it is going to be an intriguing clash between two sides at either end of the table, so, without further ado, let's get started!
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