A gallant effort but one ultimately doomed to failure. Fulham did their best to resist the attacking fluency of City and for 80 minutes seemed to have succeeded until late changes to both sides saw the current league champions finally find a way past our defence.
I’d love to be able to give you some flowing prose about the opening exchanges in which the Whites were perhaps the stronger side. Unfortunately my arrival at the ground was delayed due to my Dad getting stuck on the M25 and we missed the first 25 minutes. In that time we’d taken the lead after Riise had won a possibly soft penalty that Petric calmly converted. Rodallega had almost collected a Chris Baird through ball, and later done well on the left wing to set up Petric, who scuffed his shot over the bar.
By the time I was in my seat City were beginning to take a greater hold on the game and the chances came thick and fast. Riise looking a little exposed on the left (with Fulham lined up 4-3-3) was struggling to contain Zabaletta and City were retaining the ball better than we could. A goal mouth scramble saw the ball poked towards the net but somehow Schwarzer combined with a bevy of Fulham defenders to stop it from crossing the line. It was a brief respite though as, with two minutes to half time, Tevez fired in a deflected shot that Schwarzer did brilliantly to save but our old nemesis Aguero popped up to poke in the rebound.
The second half struggled to find the same spark of excitement. City dominated possession but rarely looked capable of carving out a clear cut opening. Baird & Sidwell worked hard in the middle to disrupt their attacks, and both fullbacks strove manfully to contain City’s wide men. Tevez departed to a chorus of insults to be replaced by Balotelli and Fulham switched to 4-4-2 as Alex Kacaniklic replaced the fading Petric. We managed glimmers of hope with a couple of counter attacks as the game became stretched. Good work from Kacaniklic seemed to have gone to waste as he ran into a wall of defence but he did find room to cut back a pass and Ruiz fizzed a shot towards goal that force Hart into a prompt save.
Baird signalled to the bench he’d done something to his leg and was replaced with 10 minutes to play by the eagerly anticipated Karagounis. The greek was straight into the fray, disappointly conceeding a free kick in the edge of our box. Thankfully, after some ball placing shenanigans, Balotelli smacked his attempt straight into our wall and the threat was wasted. Luck would not remain on our side though. City’s strength in depth was highlighted further when they introduced Edin Dzeko late on. He scored within a minute after out defence, surely running on vapours by now, failed to clear the ball and his sliced shot flew past Schwarzer into the top corner. A well taken goal but a bitter blow.