Match Report

Manchester City 1 Fulham 3

The sun's shining, the fans are singing and enquiring of the away section whether they came in a taxi. Well, it is Easter Sunday after all. The seconds tick by: Stevie Ireland is clearly not going to pull an Easter bunny out of the hat two matches running. Can he ever hit one as sweetly again as the Maundy Thursday special that stung Hamburg?

 It's Fulham who are out for the early goal, and Shay Given has to be at his most alert as Richard Dunne seems to catch a boot in the turf to let in a slightly surprised Bobby Zamora. Then Andy Johnson stumbles under Dunney's challenge just inside the box. AJ claimed he got a nudge in the back, but he rarely gets the benefit of the doubt from referees in the vicinity of the penalty area.

 City are off to a sluggish start and manager Hughes is out by the touchline with barely ten minutes gone, not looking too happy. This is a must-win game against a side that has won only once away from home this season. It's a stat that tempts fate, particularly with the Blues below strength and Fulham that much fresher.

Paul Konchesky catches Pablo Zabaleta with a nasty challenge near the touchline that rakes his ankle and earns the former West Ham man a deserved yellow card from Mark Halsey.

 Robinho takes a jog down the same touchline a minute or so later and is greeted with glee by the Blues fans down there, but the real eruption comes after 27 minutes for another marvellous goal from the irrepressible Ireland.

 Boji feeds him the ball in his own half and the Blues midfielder is allowed to make a meandering diagonal run unhindered for 25 yards before Fulham realise the danger. Not that it matters - he delivers a fabulous shot from 25 yards out that floats over Mark Schwarzer into his far top corner... an absolute corker.

 It's Ireland's eighth goal of a remarkable season and 12th overall. Not that the bare stats do the quality of his goals real justice. Boji is inspired enough to send an effort of his own zipping past the post a couple of minutes later, and the whole ground feels lifted.

 Not the best game seen at the CoMS this season by any stretch of the imagination, and you could argue that Ireland's gem of a goal deserved a finer setting, but it's the points that matter today - and leapfrogging Fulham in that chase for seventh place - so any half-time lead is OK by Hughes and his staff.

  Boji isn't happy with a tackle from behind by Hangelaand that goes unpunished by Mr Halsey, but generally there has been little for the referee to rule on in a match that, so far, has hit the heights only when Ireland conjured his little bit of magic.

 Fulham start the second half with gusto and go looking for an equaliser, but couldn't have expected a helping hand from Zabaleta, who loses possession after 49 minutes with a sloppy pass that leads to disarray at the back. Micah Richards gets in a saving tackle to rob Zamora but Clint Dempsey follows up to fire low past Given.

Hughes brings off Bojinov after 55 minutes and replaces him with eager young Welshman Ched Evans. The fans' cry goes up "we want Robinho", and the Brazilian stars another nonchalant warm-up down by a corner flag.

 But Fulham are just getting going. They pile forward again and when Konchesky's cross from the left is only half-cleared to the edge of the D, Dickson Etuhu collects, composes himself and hits a low drive beyond Given to put the Londoners 2-1 ahead.

 The former Blues player heads for the Fulham bench to celebrate while City fans relive the nightmare of last season's 3-2 home defeat from 2-0 up.

Robinho makes his entrance after 63 minutes in place of Petrov, and almost embarrasses Schwarzer soon after with a shot that the goalkeeper half-stops then has to scramble after. City's Etuhu, Kelvin, is not having nearly as good a day as his brother, and is replaced by Danny Sturridge to boost the Blues' firepower.

 Fulham almost grab a third goal with 15 minutes left when Given's punch clear from a free kick doesn't get enough height and centre-back Hangelaand launches himself at the ball only to head over the bar.

 City are still trying to save the game but Dempsey piles on the agony for the Blues after Dunne misses his tackle on Zamora on the halfway line and the Fulham striker races away to set up Dempsey for his second goal of the afternoon and the Londoners' third.

 What started out as a day full of promise has slowly disintegrated. Blues were hoping to step up to eighth place with a seventh successive home League win, but the previous best current home form in the Premier League has been scuttled by the Fulham jinx.

 Peter Ferguson

<< Back to match list -

Win Match Tickets at Stephen

For a chance to win match tickets and receive stephen's newsletter, please enter your details below


mcfc logo
  • Manchester City Official Club Website
  • Blue Moon
  • News Now - Worldwide MCFC news