Manchester City 1 Fulham 1
The spoils were shared at the City of Manchester Stadium this afternoon.
Mark Hughes was unable to call upon the services of Bobby Zamora, in any capacity, after the striker turned an ankle in training. With Sidwell also injured it meant a return for Etuhu in the centre of the park.
As expected, the home side had the majority of the early possession but failed to make any clear cut chances. The first chance, when it did come, fell to Balotelli but the Italian could only head wide, from a corner.
Another corner, delivered deep, saw the same player volley wide before Murphy hit a shot, from distance, just over the City bar. Fulham were playing well and Dembele tested Hart with a shot, from the edge of the area that the City keeper did well to save.
But, against the run of play, City took the lead. Balotelli received the ball from Tevez before hitting an awesome shot past Schwarzer. The goal rattled Fulham and City could have gone further ahead but Kolarov hit the side-netting when a better option would have been to square the ball.
Johnson`s eagerness saw him receive the first yellow card of the game for a rash challenge on Yaya Toure before Dempsey seemed intent on doing something similar by getting involved in squabbles with Barry, Toure and Zabaleta.
Perhaps the sound of the half time whistled prevented the American from getting into any trouble.
A goal down at half time Mark Hughes got the response he was looking from his side with only a few minutes of the second half played. Hangeland fed the ball to Johnson and his low ball in was expertly swept home by Damien Duff.
City, desperate for three points to keep their slim title hopes alive, were soon on the offensive. Balotelli should have scored when a Hangeland slip let in Zabaleta before another piece of pressure saw Schwarzer dive full length to deny Tevez.
Being pushed back, Schwarzer did well to tip a Kolarov shot over the bar but that was about it in terms of real danger and Fulham actually ended the game looking the better side, keeping possession but without creating that vital clear-cut chance that would have given them the three points.
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