John Pantsil Card was given for a foul
Jimmy Bullard Card was given for a foul
Stephen Ireland Card was given for a foul
Player was substituted for tactical reasons
City took an early lead when Pablo Zabaleta was able to find space down the right flank to cross for Benjani who rose highest in the area to head past Mark Schwarzer from six yards.
Fulham were experiencing some early difficulties in adjusting to the pace of the game and City were certainly doing a good job of stopping the Whites from building their passing moves. City were looking like the team with all the attacking ideas in the opening minutes and Benjani found himself on the receiving end of a knee to the side of the head after getting into another dangerous position.
An attacking move finally clicked for the Whites on 11 minutes when Bobby Zamora dummied a through-ball which allowed Andy Johnson to run in on goal. Unfortunately for Fulham, Joe Hart was off his line quickly and smothered the ball at the striker’s feet.
Fulham got back on level terms on 27 minutes through Jimmy Bullard. The Whites’ attacks had been building for some minutes prior to the goal and the breakthrough finally came from the England midfielder. Bobby Zamora played a nice reverse pass into the path of Bullard who fired a fierce close-range shot past Joe Hart and inside the far post.
The goal certainly seemed to redress the balance of the match with the encounter now taking on a more familiar ebb and flow.
A wonderfully crafted move on 36 minutes almost saw the Whites take the lead. Bobby Zamora, who had been bravely leading Fulham’s charge, did well to hold off his marker before laying the ball back down the touchline to Bullard. His low cross was cleverly diverted by Andy Johnson to Clint Dempsey, the American international shot without breaking stride unfortunately the ball flashed just wide of the post.
A dangerous Fulham counter-attack shortly after the second-half resumption saw the Whites craft a good opportunity for Zamora who slipped just as he took his shot. A few moments later, Zamora received ball from Bullard with his back to goal, the big striker turned, shifted the ball to one side and placed a low shot just wide of the far post.
Mark Schwarzer’s reflexes were called upon in the 53rd minute when Zabaleta was played into space on the left side of Fulham’s area. The shot from the City right back looked destined for the net but Schwarzer got down well to apply the slightest of touches to tip the ball round the post.
The chance was indicative of the way the game was flowing, with City getting more possession in front of Fulham’s back line and the Whites looking to gradually build their momentum before advancing up the pitch. Nonetheless, Fulham’s ventures upfield were potent enough to have City’s defence concerned – with Zamora and Johnson looking a real handful.
A shot from distance from Bullard produced a routine save from Hart in the 64th minute as Fulham began pressing forward as a unit. Just moments later Bullard’s progress was brought to an end by Ireland and the Whites were awarded a free kick some 35 yards from goal. Bullard stepped up and produced a powerful shot which Hart could only touch over the bar for a Fulham corner.
The Whites continued to look for the opening and Zamora could have forced the ball over the line from another corner but the ball came to the striker at an awkward height.
City pushed forward once more as the match entered the final ten minutes. First Zabaleta found a way through Fulham’s defence to cannon a shot straight at Schwarzer. The ball came back out and City attacked from the other flack, where an attempt on goal had Schwarzer making a somewhat unorthodox save at his near post.
Competition: Barclays Premier League
Date: Saturday 6 December 2008
Venue: Craven Cottage, London
Referee: Rob Styles
Line-up: Schwarzer; Pantsil, Hangeland, Hughes, Konchesky; Davies, Murphy, Bullard, Dempsey; Zamora, Johnson
Unused substitutes: Zuberbühler, Stoor, Kallio, Teymourian, Gera, Etuhu, Nevland
Line-up: Hart; Zabaleta, Dunne, Ben Haim, Ball; Wright-Phillips, Hamann, Kompany, Ireland; Vassell; Benjani (Evans 77')
Unused substitutes: Schmeichel, Onuoha, Logan, Vidal, Caicedo, Jô
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