Murphy (pen) 75 mins
Santa Cruz 6 mins, Tevez 36 mins
- Matchday centre
- Match reports
- Sun 21 Mar 2010, 5:38PM
- Posted by David Clayton
Carlos Tevez gave a masterful performance as City left Craven Cottage with three crucial points in their quest for Champions League football.
However, a series of missed chances after the break and a Danny Murphy penalty ensured the final few minutes were more tense than they perhaps should have been.
With the sun shining brightly in West London and the travelling City fans in good voice, the scene was set for a fascinating battle between Fulham's collective stubborness and the Blues' greater individal flare.
The home fans were still on a high after the stunning midweek victory over Juventus – liberally described as the greatest night in the Cottagers' history – so there was always a possibility of this game being a case of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’.
Spurs had tightened their grip on fourth spot with a victory at Stoke 24 hours earlier and City went into the contest trailing by five points and under pressure to keep Harry Redknapp’s side within touching distance.
Roberto Mancini, knowing a draw was not really good enough, fielded an attacking line-up with Adam Johnson, Roque Santa Cruz and Patrick Vieira,- all substitutes at Sunderland last weekend - named in the starting eleven.
Skipper Kolo Toure was also recalled to central defence, as was Javier Garrido, who was promoted from the bench after Joleon Lescott’s hamstring tightened in the warm-up meaning a total of five changes from the Stadium of Light..
Last weekend’s super sub Johnson started at the expense of Shaun Wright-Phillips as the Blues looked to extend their unbeaten League run away from home to four.
Both teams started brightly, but the travelling fans didn’t have long to wait for the first goal, though ironically, it came seconds after Kolo Toure acrobatically cleared off the line from Zoltan Gera’s looping shot.
The ball was cleared and found its way to Tevez on the halfway line. The Argentinian drove forward before playing in Bellamy whose deflected shot struck the post and Santa Cruz tapped home the rebound.
The Blues then took complete control and deservedly increased the lead on 36 minutes following terrific work between Tevez and Craig Bellamy.
Tevez knocked the ball through the legs of his marker and then played a smart reverse pass to Bellamy on the left flank. The Welshman burst forward before chipping a pass into the on-rushing Tevez’s path where he controlled the ball, beat one defender and then rolled the ball home for his 22nd of the season.
Johnson hit the post after the break and went close with a deft chip and Bellamy almost added to the tally, but Fulham, who had offered little during a lacklustre display, were handed a lifeline when the referee’s assistant judged the ball to have struck Gareth Barry’s arm.
Murphy converted and the hosts then piled forward in search of an equaliser that would have been an injustice to say the least, but ultimately, City held firm and now go into the midweek clash with Everton knowing a victory will take them above Spurs and back into fourth spot.