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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
27 February 2011
• Etihad Stadium, Manchester
Referee: P. Walton
• Attendance: 43077
M. Balotelli 26'
D. Duff 48'
90' + 3'
FULL TIME. MANCHESTER CITY 1-1 FULHAM. It ends honours even at Eastlands as Damien Duff's second half strike cancels out Mario Balotelli's opener for the hosts. City were really poor in the second period and Roberto Mancini will come under fire again for his teams rather negative approach to the match. Great point for Mark Hughes and Fulham though.
90' + 2'
Balotelli infuriates home fans as he tries a fancy flick when City have everyone forward looking for an equaliser. Huge waste.
Three minutes added on at Eastlands.
You would think that City would be throwing everyone forward looking to get the win they badly need, but there is a distinct lack of urgency from Mancini's men and Fulham look more than comfortable.
Yellow Card Danny Murphy
Danny Murphy is booked after Tevez skips past the midfielder after a great bit of skill. The resulting free-kick comes to nothing. Six minutes plus stoppage time remain for one of these sides to snatch a winner.
Half chance for Fulham as Duff crosses deep to the back post, unfortunately for the unmarked Dempsey the cross is a weak floated delivery making it almost impossible for the American to get any power on his header, so Dempsey's effort is tame and goes behind for a goal-kick.
It's Mark Hughes' turn to make a change, bringing off the exhausted Andy Johnson and introducing Eidur Gudjohnsen to the action. Johnson has worked his socks off today.
Eidur Smari Gudjohnsen
Milner gets into the action straight away delivering a decent cross from the right, but Schwarzer gathers the ball at his near post.
Roberto Mancini recognises how important three points are today by replacing Kolarov with James Milner.
Real panic in the City penalty area as Dembele heads across goal looking for Johnson. Fulhams number eight can't quite bring the ball down though and City eventually clear. This game's up for grabs now!
Groans from the City faithful as Kolarov runs the ball out of play down the left hand side. Hasn't been one of the Bulgarian's best games today despite his effort a few minutes ago.
Yellow Card Mario Balotelli
Very naughty play from Balotelli as he steps on the achilles of Damien Duff after the goalscorer skipped away from the Italian. He recieves a deserved yellow card for the challenge.
Kolarov who has shown his long range shooting since joining City in the summer, tries his luck with a half volley from thirty yards. His looping effort is straight at Schwarzer but the Aussie goalkeeper is forced to tip it over for a corner-kick. Great effort from the full-back.
City have recovered from Duff's equaliser and are really taking the game to Fulham. Vieria's introduction has given Tevez a more central role and City look far more dangerous.
Patrick Vieria almost makes an instant impact as he plays Tevez clean through on goal. Hangeland tracks back though and does just enough to ensure Tevez can't get a clean strike on the ball. The Argentine still got a low shot away, but his scuffed effort was well saved by Schwarzer.
Greg Stobart comments on the second half activity at the City of Manchester Stadium. "Finally we're hearing some noise from the City supporters, but it's moans and groans ringing around Eastlands as they watch Fulham in control of the game. Roberto Mancini's side need to liven up and move the ball around more quickly. It's certainly a more interesting game thanks to that Damien Duff goal and Andy Johnson is continuing to threaten for Fulham with his pace and movement."
Much of the play is taking place in the middle of the park at the moment with City looking to dominate possession. Fulham aren't settling for a point though and are trying to find Johnson and Dembele at every opportunity.
Embarrassing moment for Balotelli who completely mishits his shot when well placed inside the penalty area. Zabaleta had done really well to find Balotelli and the Italian won't be happy with his finish there.
Manchester City are awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position 25 yards from goal. Tevez stands over the ball but his effort is really poor and sails well over Schwarzer's crossbar.
Fulham are the better side at the moment. Danny Murphy floats a ball over the top that Andy Johnson runs onto before cutting inside and hitting a tame effort straight at Hart.
Assist Andy Johnson
Goal Damien Duff
GOAL!! FULHAM!! DUFF!! MANCHESTER CITY 1-1 FULHAM. Great goal from Duff who puts Mark Hughes' side level on his return to Eastlands. Hangeland plays in Johnson down the right-hand side who fizzes the ball across the box to Duff who comes in at the back post to slot the ball past Joe Hart. Really good move from the Cottagers.
The second half is underway.
Greg Stobart shares his views with us at the interval: The first-half highlights from Eastlands can be neatly packaged in to just one moment. Mario Balotelli's 26th minute cracker means City go in at the break 1-0 up after a woeful 45 minutes from both sides. Nothing else of any note has happened, leaving fans and journalists alike bored and uninspired. Fulham need to up their attacking game after the break and City don't seem at all bothered about adding a second.
45' + 1'
City win a corner in first half stoppage time after a miscommunication between Baird and Schwarzer. Kolarov whips it in, but Fulham are able to clear, as Peter Walton - to the relief of the crowd - blows for half-time.
Just to confirm everyone, it wasn't a typo earlier - Carlos Tevez is playing this afternoon, in what is a surprisingly quiet first half for the Argentine captain.
Kolarov, who hasn't enjoyed the best of starts so far, escapes punishment after misplacing a pass to Toure, which has Johnson latched onto, Fulham could have been through.
Well the football might be on the dull side, but the off-the-ball antics aren't! After reacting angrily to Barry's trip, Dempsey then loses his nerve with Yaya Toure! Rather you than me Clint!
Dempsey wins a free-kick around 25-yards from goal. The American turned Barry expertly, and the City man, knowing that the he wasn't going to catch him, killed the move with a cynical trip.
Well, our hopes of that goal kicking the game into life have gone firmly out of the window. In fact, it seems to have done the complete opposite!
Yellow Card Andy Johnson
Murphy picks up the ball in the centre of the pitch, and looks to free Salcido on the left flank, but as the Mexican darts past Boateng, the pass from his captain is over-hit, and drifts out for a throw-in.
That Balotelli striker has settled a few nerves at Eastlands and shows why Roberto Mancini has so much faith in the Italian's ability. The game was meandering along and it needed one of City's forwards to produce a bit of magic. Mark Hughes is called on to give the City fans a wave – he declines as he chooses instead to harangue 4th official Howard Webb.
Well that goal has stunned Fulham. Hughes' side were starting to enjoy some decent possession before City's opener, and to be honest, the goal came against the run of play.
Greg Stobart shares his views on Balotelli's effort: Where did that come from? Mario Balotelli smashes a wonderful opener for City, the ball exploding off his right foot from 25 yards, beating Mark Schwarzer and landing in the bottom corner. 1-0.
Assist Carlos Tévez
Goal Mario Balotelli
The Italian sidesteps past the attentions of his marker to fire a low drive past the Schwarzer into the bottom right corner. Great finish! His sixth goal in his last seven starts!
GOAL BALOTELLI MAKES THE BREAKTHROUGH, AND HOW THEY NEEDED THAT!
HART AT FULL STRETCH AS MURPHY UNLEASHES RASPING DRIVE FROM THE EDGE OF THE BOX!
All too predictable from the hosts at the moment, as Fulham begin to turn the screw in the final third. The home faithful are not impressed with this performance, and are making their feeling known.
As we approach the 20th minute of the match, it will be Hughes who'll be the happier with this tepid start to the match.
City move the ball about in an almost lackadaisical manner, such is Fulham's willingness to sit back when not in possession. But at the moment Mancini's front-three are still building their partnership, and the visitors are able to mop-up after loose and heavy touches.
Fulham are started to enjoy a passage of possession in City's half, as Duff, Murphy and Etuhu link well on the right flank, before the Irishman floats in a cross which once again sees Hart dart across his box, as the England 'keeper punches the ball clear.
Greg Stobart updates us: Not for the first time this season, the atmosphere here is surprisingly subdued. But Mario Balotelli – who, incidentally, has shaved his head to the bone and is now bald – has managed to get the crowd on their feet a couple of times already. Fulham really need to string a few passes together and settle into the game.
Nonetheless, it's the hosts, and in particular Balotelli who has the first half-chance of the match, but he fails to direct his header on target following Kolarov's corner.
It's worth noting that should Clint Dempsey score today, he'll set a new record for goals scored in a Premier League season. The American international currently has 9 goals to his name, putting him level with former Fulham and Everton striker Brian McBride.
Hart has to sprint off his line to reach the ball before the onrushing Andrew Johnson, as Fulham looked to spring a surprise attack on City's goal.
The hosts have started the brighter here this afternoon, and Hughes' side look content with soaking up the pressure in the opening exchanges.
Our man at Eastlands today is Greg Stobart, and he updates us: I've seen my fair share of pathetic turnouts from Fulham fans at away games and this is right up there. There can't be any more than 80 travelling supporters seated in the upper tier of a very lonely away section. City boss Roberto Mancini uses his programme notes to moan about the fixture schedule – but he has one of the strongest squads in the country and his side could pull eight points clear of fellow Champions League hopefuls Spurs if they win today and beat Wigan next weekend. And, of course, we have the sideshow of Mark Hughes returning to Eastlands. The Welshman thought he was harshly treated here and feels he has a point to prove to his former employers.
And we're underway at Eastlands!
Fulham 4-4-2: Schwarzer; Baird, Hughes, Hangeland, Salcido; Duff, Etuhu, Murphy, Dempsey; Johnson, Dembele. Subs: Stockdale, Kelly, Gera, Gudjohnsen, Kakuta, Greening, Davies
Manchester City 4-3-3: Hart; Boateng, Kolo Toure, Lescott, Kolarov; Yaya Toure, Barry, Zabaleta; Tevez, Dzeko, Balotelli. Subs: Milner, Wright-Phillips, Taylor, Jo, Guidetti, Wabara, Vieira
And the teams are in, and Roberto Mancini goes with his three star strikers again this afternoon, as David Silva and Vincent Kompany miss out.
Good afternoon, and welcome to Goal.com UK’s live text commentary of Manchester City against Fulham.
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