City crush Fulham to go fourth

Carlos Tevez scored twice as Manchester City restored their place in the Premier League's top four with a convincing 4-1 win at Fulham.

Last Updated: 21/11/10 at 18:10 Post Comment

Tevez: Celebrates his opener

Tevez: Celebrates his opener

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Mark Hughes was the man profiting from Tevez's prowess in front of goal 12 months ago but it will be Roberto Mancini hailing the South American after a man-of-the-match display against his former boss.

Mancini had been criticised for his negative approach ahead of the game and the Manchester City boss left himself open for more after naming Gareth Barry, Nigel De Jong and Yaya Toure in midfield.

However, there were few complaints from the City end when Tevez put them in front early on and certainly none by half-time once Pablo Zabaleta and Yaya Toure had increased the visitors' lead.

Fulham came into the game a bit more after the interval but Tevez scored a clever second just before the hour mark to put City 4-0 in front and Zoltan Gera's consolation barely took the shine off a terrific performance by Mancini's men.

For a side said to be lacking in team spirit and certainly lacking a few goals after successive goalless draws, this was precisely the kind of banana skin City needed to avoid.

Hughes said all the right things in the build-up to his first encounter with the club since he was controversially dumped in favour of Mancini last December but his desperation to win must have been huge. After all, five of the City team were his signings, compared to just one in his own.

This did not include Jo, who arrived at Eastlands a couple of weeks before the Welshman and was sent packing at the earliest opportunity.

In a sense, Jo represents the profligacy of Sheikh Mansour's tenure. Bought for £18million without any real role and sent away just as quickly.

It is Tevez though who remains City's stellar buy of the Abu Dhabi era. And it took the South American just five minutes to show why.

On the shoulder of Carlos Salcido, Tevez collected Barry's pass perfectly, allowing him to roll the defender, expertly using his body weight, and then drill a low shot beyond Mark Schwarzer.

Such is the success City tend to enjoy when Tevez score, Hughes must have feared the worst. Had Aleksandar Kolarov showed a similarly clinical instinct when he nipped past Damien Duff after David Silva had found him with a delicate chipped pass on a lightning break forward, the contest would have been over before it eventually was.

The wait was only a couple of minutes though. The culprit Duff, whose scuffed clearance to a low Silva cross rolled perfectly for Zabaleta.

In front of watching Argentina legend Diego Maradona, Zabaleta must have impressed his fellow countryman with the ferocity of his strike, which flew into the corner.

If Tevez was the stand-out signing of Hughes' time in charge, Yaya Toure is Mancini's signature transfer.

The wages, estimated at £220,000, are still so colossal they can scarcely be believed. The figure trotted out with every ineffective display.

Yet Toure goes about his work in an understated way.

The Ivorian did not really dominate proceedings here but overlapping to Tevez's right to collect a pass that continued a move Jo and Silva had started, he finished in fine style, more or less in exactly the same spot as the first City goal ended up in.

A brief flurry which coincided with Gera's half-time introduction raised hopes of a Fulham face-saving mission.

Sadly for Hughes and his players it turned out to be an illusion.

Tevez really should have squared to provide an unmarked Jo with a tap-in after he had burst clear of the home defence.

Instead he allowed Schwarzer to make the save, conceding the corner from which he was to profit as, with his back to goal, he stuck out a foot to send Zabaleta's 20-yard drive looping into the Fulham net for his 10th goal of the season.

There was no way back for the hosts, who did gain some consolation thanks to Gera.

But Hughes and his team are now in a relegation scrap and he can only watch as City challenge for the major honours.

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