Fulham downed by late Dzeko winner
17:31 29 September 2012
Premier League: Fulham 1 Manchester City 2
A late winner from Manchester City substitute Edin Dzeko broke Fulham’s resolve to condemn them to their first home defeat of the season.
In the 87th minute, Fulham’s John Arne Riise and Brede Hangeland failed to clear a cross from the left, allowing supersub Dzeko to turn and blast home from 12 yards out.
Earlier, Mladen Petric’s penalty had given Fulham a shock lead before Sergio Aguero equalised two minutes before the interval.
It was a hard result to take for Fulham, who had defended resolutely in the face of huge pressure from City throughout the second half.
Fulham boss Martin Jol made two changes to the side that won 2-1 at Wigan last week, with Mladen Petric coming in for the injured Dimitar Berbatov and Bryan Ruiz replacing Alexander Kacaniklic.
The Cottagers put a combined eight goals past Norwich and West Brom in their first two home games of the season, and it didn’t take them long to break the deadlock here.
With ten minutes gone Pablo Zabaleta was adjudged to have pulled back Riise just inside the City box, and referee Mark Halsey pointed to the spot.
Replays showed the Norwegian went to ground easily but Petric stepped up in the absence of first choice penalty taker Berbatov to smash home his third goal of the season.
Buoyed by their opener, the Cottagers could have had a second five minutes later when some sharp interplay between Hugo Rodallega and Petric ended with the Croatian hooking over the bar from 12 yards.
Falling behind seems to spark the visitors to life, however, and as they began to pile on the pressure, Sergio Aguero missed a free header at the far post after a David Silva corner brushed off the head of Chris Baird.
With just over half an hour gone, City felt they should have had a penalty, as Riise looked to hold back Carlos Tevez who was played in by Gareth Barry.
City twice came close before their 43rd minute equaliser, with Mark Schwarzer first smothering the ball on the line after a goalmouth scramble before saving well from Silva.
Despite the Australian’s heroics, Man City’s continued dominance paid dividends.
Tevez’s diagonal shot was nudged towards goal by Silva, Schwarzer got down low to pull off another good save but Aguero was on hand to bury the rebound.
It was no less than the visitors deserved, and they continued to dominate after the break.
Aguero almost grabbed a second after 60 minutes, his looping header from Zabaleta’s cross dropping just wide of Schwarzer’s far post.
The excellent Ruiz had Fulham’s best chance in a frantic second half, his stinging drive from 20 yards bringing a good save from Hart after 73 minutes.
Roberto Mancini threw on Mario Balotelli Samir Nasri and Dzeko as City went all out for the win and the latter came up trumps just moments after his introduction.
Gael Clichy’s cross from the left was headed back across goal by Riise, bounced of skipper Hangeland and fell to Dzeko, who did well to finish with his back to goal.
Aguero shot narrowly over as City’s relentless pressure continued, with Fulham – exhausted from their spirited defensive performance - unable to muster a response.
Fulham: Schwarzer, Riise, Hangeland, Hughes, Riether, Baird (Karagounis 81), Sidwell, Ruiz, Duff, Ruis, Rodallega, Petric (Kacaniklic 66). Subs not used: Stockdale, Kelly, Kasami, Briggs, Smith.
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Nastasic, Kompany, Barry (Nasri 77), Toure, Garcia (Dzeko 85), Silva, Tevez (Balotelli 66), Aguero. Subs not used: Pantilimon, Lescott, Milner, Kolarov.
Referee: Mark Halsey
Attendance 25, 698