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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
29 September 2012
• Craven Cottage, London
Referee: M. Halsey
• Attendance: 25698
M. Petrić 10'
S. Agüero 44'
E. Džeko 87'
A great win for City, coming back from behind to grab a win at Craven Cottage, where not many clubs get a result. It's their first win in five games, and Dzeko's winner is their fourth goal in the closing stages of games already this term. A growing reputation perhaps. I've been Matt Scott, thanks for tuning in this afternoon!
90' + 4'
But that's the full-time whistle. Manchester City have won here!
90' + 3'
MORE chances for City, Toure is released down the right wing before squaring to an unmarked Aguero, but he curls his shot over.
90' + 2'
Balotelli is desperate to get in on the action here, and looks determined to score a stunner, he spins away from his man before hitting a 25-yarder that Hangeland rushes out and blocks well. City controlling the closing stages well.
90' + 1'
City continue to attack as we enter the first of three additional minutes. The ball is worked from left to right and Silva has a yard of space but his curler is charged down by Riise.
That goal is no less than City deserve, and they continue to flood forward, Aguero cuts infield and hits a blocked effort that squirms to Toure, whose effort is straight at Schwarzer.
Goal Edin Dzeko
GOALL!!!! What an impact from the substitute Edin Dzeko! Clichy's cross from the right is poorly dealt with by Riise whose clearing header goes nowhere, Dzeko pounces on the ball before spinning and firing into the top corner barely more than a minute after coming on.
Another swap for City and it's a clear attacking change. Edin Dzeko replaces Javi Garcia.
...but can only fire his effort into the wall. He claims handball but it is more in vain than anything. Poor effort.
Free kick to City in a dangerous area as Karagounis hacks down Aguero. Balotelli will take, with a shot on goal clearly in his thoughts...
Fulham have dropped incredibly deep now and City have no room for manoeuvre. Toure looks to chip a ball over the back-line into Aguero, but it is too long and drifts out of play.
Balotelli again drops into a pocket of space on the edge of the box and is fed by Silva before turning and hitting wide again. Fulham are making a change, Chris Baird comes off and the experienced Greek midfielder Giorgos Karagounis is on in his place to make his Fulham debut.
Frustrations-abound for City and Yaya Toure. The Ivorian clicks up the gears as he charges down the left but Baird holds him off and the ball goes out for a throw-in with Toure demanding a free kick that is not awarded.
More City pressure. Clichy's cross from the left is deflected up into the air and Schwarzer struggles with his punch. Silva feeds Zabaleta who also hits a deflected cross, which is headed away. City have also made a change, Samir Nasri replacing Gareth Barry.
Fulham are dangerous on the counter now. Kacaniklic gets down the left and fires a low cross that hits Zabaleta's arm as he slides to stop it, no penalty given. The ball is then worked to Ruiz who brings the best out of Joe hart with a crashing effort from just inside the area.
Fulham are largely camped in their own half now and inviting City on to them. Steve Sidwell's tenacity has been crucial to their efforts today, the midfielder again getting stuck in on Aguero in the box as he looked to pull the trigger.
First effort from Balotelli as he picks the ball up on the edge of the area, and hits a powerful effort just wide. He was awarded too much space there.
Fulham get a free kick as Kompany wrestles with Rodallega under a long ball. The Belgian is already on a booking and might need to be careful until the end of the game. Riise takes the set-piece but wastes it poorly, overhitting his effort out for a goal kick.
Balotelli is finally on, replacing Carlos Tevez. Fulham's goalscorer Mladen Petric is also substituted with Adam Kacaniklic coming on and Hugo Rodallega moving into the middle.
Mario Balotelli is still waiting to come on with the action swinging from one end to the other. Eventually, Zabaleta turns on the edge of the box before hitting a left-footed effort over.
Silva and Zabaleta combining well again with the Spaniard finding his right-back bombing on. Zabaleta's cross is cleared for a corner, which bobbles to Tevez's feet. The ball is crowded out for another corner, and Schwarzer fumbles the ball but it is hacked away. Fulham again under the cosh.
Agonisingly wide from Aguero! Silva, faced with three Fulham players, twists away from his markers and finds Zabaleta wide right. He crosses the ball to Aguero who flicks his header just wide of the far post!
Many of you are about to get your wish. Balotelli is stripped and ready to come on for City.
Fulham are looking the more composed team here. Duff bursts down the right, buying a corner off Clichy. The Irishman's ball is whipped over the six-yard box with Rodallega inches away from making contact.
Jay Jaffa is at the Cottage for us, here's his take on the refereeing today: "The Manchester City fans are screaming for a penalty as a clumsy Steve Sidwell challenge fells Pablo Zabaleta in the box, however, once again, Mark Halsey turns down the appeal. I'd say he has got them all right (aside from the Fulham penalty decision)."
Silva has been bright for City this afternoon and he dashes forward again with the ball under his spell, the Spaniard looks to slip Aguero in but the ball is blocked and ricochets through to Schwarzer. City push forward again and Zabaleta gets into the box before tumbling under Sidwell's challenge. A third appeal for City, a third refusal from Mark Halsey.
City get forward for the first time in the half and win a corner of their own. Tevez finds the ball at his feet but Baird snaps into a good challenge and the ball is cleared.
Fulham pushing on early in the second period here. Vincent Kompany has to scramble the ball behind for a corner with Petric threatening, but Duff's ball from the right is well claimed by Joe Hart.
Fuham go close early! Sacha Riether is fouled on the right wing and Ruiz's in-swinging delivery ends up bouncing wide. The ball appeared to come off Vincent Kompany but Mark Halsey gives a goal kick.
No changes from either side at the half. Many of you wanted Mario Balotelli introduced but the Italian will have to wait.
And Fulham get the second half started.
@darko_au: "City should bring on Balotelli for Tevez. We need some strength to push through a strong Fulham defence." Players are back out, the second half is about to get underway!
A second-half prediction from @Obalexy: "I predict a 4-1 for Man City if, and only if, Balotelli comes in before the 60th minute." Could Super Mario be the man to turn this one around?
Some thoughts on Fulham's spot-kick from @Arvindfelicyia: "It was not a penalty it was a free kick. Man city should get 2 penalties." - They certainly could have had a couple!
@Paulc1308 sees bigger problems for the champions: "They say the second season after winning the title is the hardest... Man City look to have second-season syndrome."
So what did you make of that first period? Tweet me @matthewgscott with your thoughts. Should Fulham's penalty have been awarded? Who should come on for City to give them more joy against the Cottagers' solid backline? Let me know!
45' + 1'
Mark Halsey blows the half-time whistle! A superb opening 45 minutes at Craven Cottage ends level with Sergio Aguero's close-range effort cancelling out Mladen Petric's penalty, awarded in questionable circumstances.
It's certainly a deserved equaliser for City's attackers but Fulham's defensive display has been a good one so far.
Goal Sergio Agüero
GOAL!! It's an equaliser for City! Carlos Tevez shot pinballs in the area and Silva pokes an effort on goal that Schwarzer saves well, he can only parry the ball to Sergio Aguero, though, who taps home from a yard.
The big Aussie is again tested. Silva rasps an effort at goal from the edge of the area that Scwarzer gets down to his left to claw away. The ball falls to Zabaleta but his cut-back is prodded wide by Tevez. Fulham are clinging onto their lead here. Martin Jol will be desperate to hold out until half time.
Incredible last-ditch defending from Fulham! City fly down the right flank and Zabaleta again puts a superb cross in. Baird intercepts the cross but the ball looks destined to cross the line. Schwarzer pounces on the ball, saving it from crossing the line, great goalkeeping from the veteran Australian!
It's taken by Rodallega, who hits the wall. The ball squirms to Ruiz's feet and he lashes a shot into the side netting, with Hart well positioned.
Yellow Card Vincent Kompany
But Fulham look great on the counter, with much of their good play going through Bryan Ruiz, the Costa Rican threads a ball to Petric who is felled By Kompany. The Belgian picking up the first booking of the game for his troubles. Free kick in a dangerous position upcoming...
City pressing again and their passing is really starting to click now, Silva plays the ball across the edge of the box to Barry who in turn feeds Clichy in the left channel. The Frenchman's cross takes a nick off Baird and Schwarzer is aware to pluck the ball out the air.
Another poor effort as City charge down the other end. Tevez picks up the ball and has only one thing on his mind, dribbling towards goal before hitting an effort from the edge of the box, but it's bobbles wide. City look frustrated out there.
Steve Sidwell has been among the goals this season, but that's a woeful effort. He hits it from 25 yards but the ball balloons into the crowd, poor effort.
More penalty shouts for City! A flowing move with Tevez, Silva and Barry sees the England man look to slip Tevez into the area. He goes down under Riise's challenge but Mark Halsey again says no. Replays suggest Riise had a hold of the Argentine's shirt.
City are getting closer now, a corner from the right is flicked on by Javi Garcia to an unmarked Sergio Aguero, but he can only plant his header into the side netting. Should be 1-1.
Fulham have themselves a free kick from fully 30 yards. Riise stands over it and hits a strong effort that is on target, but Hart is well behind it and makes an easy save.
Yaya Toure looks to play the ball out his own half but runs into Sacha Riether. He gets himself off the hook by taking a tumble with Steve Sidwell challenging him and referee Halsey gives a foul.
Best chance for City! Tevez plays a great diagonal ball to Zabaleta who gets behind Riise. Zabaleta plays a great ball across the face of goal but Hangeland hacks away with Aguero lurking for a tap-in.
Tevez, Barry and Toure all exchange the ball on the edge of the area but they have no room to manouvere. The defence is standing strong and Steve Sidwell is terrier-like just in front of them.
Man City's turn to ask for a penalty. Carlos Tevez and David Silva show neat touches on the edge of the Fulham area, the Spaniard looks to dink the ball to Tevez who runs into John Arne Riise and collapses to the floor, but nothing doing from Mark Halsey.
The away side are persisting with the patient approach here. Fulham are well organised though, and City will need to be creative to break down Aaron Hughes and Brede Hangeland.
City are slowing things down here, passing the ball around neatly and trying to regain their composure, but it's given away in midfield and Rodallega bursts forward, before cutting the ball to Petric, the ball is slightly behind the Croatian and he skews his effort into the stand behind the goal.
City's first effort at getting back in this game and it's Carlos Tevez with an effort straight at Schwarzer after a scampering run in from the left wing.
Robert Mancini is noticeably unhappy with the award of that penalty, and rightly so. The challenge looked outside the box, and contact, if any was made, was extremely minimal.
Penalty Goal Mladen Petric
GOAL!! Superb spot kick from Petric who sends Joe Hart the wrong way. It's another afternoon with no clean sheet for the champions!
PENALTY TO FULHAM - Riise cuts inside Zabaleta and into the box before going down under the Argentine's challenge. Mark Halsey points to the spot, it looks like a soft award. Mladen Petric to take...
An end-to-end start here. Aguero darts forward and cuts infield from his left-wing position. Gareth Barry drifts wide and the Argentine looks to find him but over-hits his pass out for a goal kick.
First foray forward for the home side, Duff bursts down the right before checking onto his left foot and whipping a ball in that Kompany heads clear. The ball is worked to Riise on the left flank but the Norwegian's cross is poor and easily dealt with.
And there's our first shot of the game. But Yaya Toure's 30-yard effort is badly scuffed and dribbles miserably wide of Mark Schwarzer's goal.
Fulham have struggled to get out of their half so far but Bryan Ruiz draws the first foul of the game from Javi Garcia.
Early pressure for City with Aguero scooting down the left-flank and cutting the ball back towards Tevez, but Baird is alive to the danger and clears.
We're off! City get us underway, kicking from right to left.
More from Jay Jaffa pre kick-off: "But Fulham are a stubborn proposition and have recorded their finest start to a Premier League campaign since 2002-03. A win today will be their fifth consecutive home victory – a record that extends to 1966 – and will be made all the more impressive in the absence of Dimitar Berbatov. Martin Jol has stuck to his attacking principles with his line-up and will be hoping to add to the 12 goals his team have scored in the Premier League thus far."
Here come the teams, emerging from the shadow of the cottage in the corner of the stadium. Kick-off is just minutes away.
What do you make of those line-ups? Tweet me @matthewgscott with your thoughts and tell me who is going to be the key players for either side today!
Jay Jaffa is our man at the Cottage: "Roberto Mancini made a determined promise to reporters in his pre-match briefing, stating Manchester City 'will win the title' this season, despite a start that has seen them drop six points from an available 15 already. They do however, come to Craven Cottage – always a tricky venue – with an impressive unbeaten record. It is seven games and counting since City last tasted defeat at Fulham and Mancini will expect that at the very least today."
So Mattija Nastasic retains his place in the heart of defence, while big guns come out further up the field; Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure, David Silva and Carlos Tevez all in the side.
And on the bench for the champions: Pantilimon, Lescott, Milner, Nasri, Dzeko, Kolarov, Balotelli.
Man City's starting XI: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy; Barry, Yaya Toure, Garcia; Silva, Aguero, Tevez.
Fulham's subs: Stockdale, Kelly, Kasami, Karagounis, Briggs, Kacaniklic, A. Smith
The teams are in, starting with Fulham: Schwarzer; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise; Duff, Baird, Sidwell, Rodallega; Ruiz, Petric.
If you want all the stats ahead of this one with just 20 minutes to kick-off, check out our match preview. --> http://www.goal.com/en-gb/match/80861/fulham-vs-manchester-city/preview
Meanwhile, Fulham are traditionally very strong at home, having only lost one of their last 13 games at Craven Cottage. Martin Jol has been dealt a blow in this game, however, Dimitar Berbatov has been ruled out for the next few weeks with a hip injury.
Roberto Mancini's side will no doubt be aware that Chelsea have just extended their lead at the top of the table at the Emirates. City haven't won any of their last four games in all competitions and have conceded in every game they've played so far this term.
Good afternoon and welcome to Goal.com's play-by-play coverage of Manchester City's visit to Fulham! I'm Matt Scott and I will be guiding you through all the action at Craven Cottage!
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