Fulham looked set for their third victory of the season after Steed Malbranque and Louis Saha had cancelled out Nicolas Anelka's strike 17 seconds after the restart, but City pushed ahead in the dying moments and were rewarded by Wanchope's late equaliser. Fulham boss Chris Coleman had called for his team to show more steel and they delivered, looking solid at the back and refusing to give up when free-scoring City - spurred on by Anelka's score - threatened to cut loose.
But they failed to keep their concentration until the final whistle and the paid the price against a City side that has looked very dangerous on their travels following away wins at Aston Villa and Blackburn. Coleman made no changes to his starting line-up after the 2-2 draw with Birmingham but named centre-backs Martin Djetou and Andy Melville on the bench after both defenders had recovered from injury. Danny Tiatto was City's only alteration to the side which hammered Aston Villa last weekend with Michael Tarnat sidelined by a stomach complaint while there was no place in the squad for Claudio Reyna, the player who snubbed Fulham for a last-minute switch to City. Former Real Madrid midfielder Steve McManaman was given a central role but he floated out wide on the right in the opening exchanges and almost unlocked Fulham's defence with a dangerous through-ball which Shaun Wright-Phillips just failed to reach.
Trevor Sinclair flashed a header into the arms of Edwin van der Sar moments later as City continued to press before curling in a corner which Wanchope nodded wide, squandering a glorious chance. A quickfire raid from Fulham was halted when Portuguese striker Luis Boa Morte was hauled down just outside the area, but the Cottagers had won a free-kick which Steed Malbranque used to feed Zat Knight only for the lanky defender to nod over the bar. Boa Morte was in the thick of the action in the 21st minute after collecting Saha's incisive pass before turning the City defence inside out, but having done the hard work he pushed his shot inches wide of the right post. Wright-Phillips was given a yellow card for a foul on Sylvain Legwinski shortly after and team-mate David Sommeil followed him into the book moments later for a similar offence as Fulham began to threaten.
City still looked dangerous on the counter but Fulham were attacking with growing efficiency, forcing Kevin Keegan's side into committing a series of fouls to deal with the danger. Saha ghosted infield in the 34th minute and fired a powerful shot from just outside the area but his effort was easily matched by Seaman who, for all the Cottagers' ambition, had yet to be properly tested. The second half was just 17 seconds old when City eventually broke the deadlock, Anelka picking up the ball in midfield and advancing forward before unleashing a 20-yard shot into the bottom right corner for his seventh goal of the season. Despite his effort lacking real power it was beautifully placed to give van der Sar little hope of preventing the score, although the Dutch keeper will not have been pleased with his defence who were caught unawares.
Malbranque tested Seaman in the 56th minute after being played in by Saha but City responded quickly when Wright-Phillips forced the keeper into action at the other end, with Sinclair's subsequent corner scrambled away desperately. Fulham's attacking ambition was rewarded in the 73rd minute when Moritz's chip to the far post was met by Boa Morte who drew Seaman before squaring neatly to Malbranque who made full use of the open goal before him. Malbranque then set Saha who slipped his shot past Seaman into the left corner but there was still time for Wanchope to level the score after he met Sun Jihai's cross and nodded home.