Despite a second half scare and a horrible own goal, Manchester City have recorded a rare win away from home, defeating Fulham 4-2 at Craven Cottage. The hosts erased a 2-0 City lead in the second half, but City had no problem picking up the pace after conceding twice and went on to record a victory in very convincing fashion.
Fulham started the match with three central midfielders and without a center forward, attempting to restrict space for City in the middle. For much of the early parts of the game, it worked. Fulham had the first big chance of the game in the 12th minute when Joe Hart -- returning to the starting XI from exile -- made a save on a deflected shot by Adel Taarabt. City hit back quickly, with David Silva hitting the crossbar two minutes later.
City's breakthrough came in the 23rd minute on a stunning free kick from Yaya Toure. From 20 yards out in the center of the pitch, he placed a perfect shot into the top corner to Maarten Stekelenburg's left, hitting the underside of the crossbar. The Citizens doubled their lead 20 minutes later, with Vincent Kompany finishing off a rebound chance after Stekelenburg stopped a header by Martin Demichelis off a free kick.
While Fulham made no tactical changes -- they did have to sub in Fernando Amorebieta for Philippe Senderos due to injury, however -- they came out looking much sharper to start the second half. Kieran Richardson fired them back into the game in the 50th minute, tapping in a cross after a brilliant run down the right wing by Taarabt. They continued to look dangerous for the next 20 minutes, but the eventual equalizer was a gift.
In the 70th minute, Vincent Kompany submitted his entry into the discussion for funniest own goals ever. He looked to have a routine clearance on a low ball into the near post to Hart's left, but inexplicably kicked the ball in such a way that it popped up into the air and flew backwards, sailing over Hart's head and into the back of the net.
Manchester City had brought Jesus Navas into the game earlier and responded to the own goal by introducing James Milner. They proved to be great additions to the game for Manuel Pellegrini, scoring the game's final two goals. Navas scored the eventual winner int he 78th minute, running onto a through ball by Silva before finishing between Stekelenburg's legs. The clinching goal came five minutes later, when Alvaro Negredo found James Milner at the back post with a cross.
Ultimately, the game was tied up for just eight minutes and there was little drama. Despite some nice play from Fulham and the awful own goal from Kompany, the result never looked much in doubt for City.
Fulham: Stekelenburg, Riise, Senderos (Amorebieta 37'), Hughes, Riether, Karagounis (Bent 82'), Sidwell, Parker, Richardson, Taarabt, Dejagah (Kasami 65')
Goals: Richardson (50'), Kompany (OG 69')
Manchester City: Hart, Kolarov, Demichelis, Kompany, Clichy, Silva (Garcia 84'), Fernandinho, Toure, Nasri (Milner 75'), Negredo, Dzeko (Navas 58')
Goals: Toure (23'), Kompany (43'), Navas (78'), Milner (83')