Live Commentary: Manchester City 2-0 Fulham - as it happened

Live Commentary: Man City 2-0 Fulham - as it happened
© PA Photos
Sports Mole brings you live text coverage of the Premier League clash between title-holders Manchester City and out-of-form Fulham at the Etihad Stadium.

Manchester City welcomed Fulham to the Etihad Stadium this afternoon knowing that a win would move them to within four points of rivals United at the Premier League summit.

David Silva bagged a brace to double his goalscoring tally for the season and inflict another defeat on out-of-form Fulham.

The result was the fourth game in succession that City have recorded victory without conceding.

Below, you can read how City picked up maximum points and maintained their fine recent defensive record in the process.

2.12pmAfternoon all! That magical under-soil heating has done its job in Manchester and despite the freezing conditions, it is game on at the Etihad!

2.14pmLet us have a look at the two sides then, starting with the hosts...

2.16pmSergio Aguero has recovered from his hamstring strain, but only sufficiently enough to take his place among the City substitutes. Top scorer Edin Dzeko is partnered by Carlos Tevez in attack.

2.18pmAfter seeing the red card he was shown against Arsenal rescinded by the FA, Vincent Kompany is available to captain the Premier League champions from the heart of their defence.

2.20pmBoth James Milner and Javi Garcia retain their places in the City midfield after impressing in the victory over the Gunners.

2.22pmFormer Arsenal star Samir Nasri and Mario Balotelli are named alongside Aguero on a strong City bench that also includes Jack Rodwell.

2.24pmThe £15m summer signing from Everton has been absent since October with a succession of hamstring injuries, but like Aguero, is fit enough to be named in the Citizens 18.

2.25pmHere is the City team in full then...

2.27pmCITY: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy; Garcia, Barry, Milner, Silva; Tevez, Dzeko

2.28pmSUBS: Pantilimon, Lescott, Rodwell, Kolarov, Nasri, Balotelli, Aguero

2.30pmAfter making several changes for their midweek extra-time win over Blackpool in the FA Cup third round, Martin Jol has reverted mostly to the side that drew against Wigan in their last Premier League outing.

2.32pmDimitar Berbatov and Bryan Ruiz return to provide Fulham's main attacking threat and they will be supported by Damien Duff and Ashkan Dejagah from the flanks.

2.35pmYoung full-back Matthew Briggs misses out and is replaced on the left side of the visiting defence by Kieron Richardson.

2.37pmSteve Sidwell and Aaron Hughes are also handed recalls, with Phillipe Senderos and Alex Kacaniklic dropping to the bench.

2.39pmDespite denying reports of a fallout between himself and John Arne Riise, Martin Jol does not name the Norwegian in his squad this afternoon.

2.40pmHere is the Fulham team in full then...

2.42pmFULHAM: Schwarzer; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Richardson; Duff, Sidwell, Karagounis, Dejagah, Ruiz; Berbatov

2.43pmSUBS: Etheridge, Senderos, Baird, Petric, Briggs, Rodallega, Kacaniklic

2.45pmVictory today would take City to within seven points of their cross-city rivals United at the Premier League summit.

2.46pmThe Red Devils are not in action until tomorrow, when they visit White Hart Lane looking to exact revenge on Tottenham Hotspur for their loss at Old Trafford earlier this campaign.

2.48pmAs their positions in the table suggest, the two sides are in contrasting form heading into the fixture...

2.50pmCity have won five out of their last six top-flight matches, while Fulham have picked up just five points from their six most recent games.

2.52pmFor a closer look at the form, take a look at Sports Mole's stat centre!

2.55pmAround five minutes until kickoff now and the arrival of the players onto the pitch is imminent...

2.56pmRight then, prediction time! I am backing the champions to take maximum points today, but I do think that Fulham will breach the Premier League's tightest defence. I'll go for 3-1!

0 minFulham get us underway at the Etihad...

1 minGOAL! Man City 1-0 Fulham (David Silva)

2 minCity lead inside two minutes! James Milner intercepts a Fulham pass before feeding Dzeko. The Bosnian shoots low from 25 yards and when Schwarzer parries the strike, Silva responds to convert the rebound left footed from 10 yards.

4 minIdeal start for the champions courtesy of Silva's second goal of the season.

6 minReither whips an inviting ball into the box, aimed towards Berbatov, but Matija Nastasic climbs to head clear.

9 minClichy's cross is flicked on by Dzeko. Zabaleta arrives at the back post and has a sight of goal, but chests the ball straight out of play as he tries to bring it under control.

11 minHughes leaves a back pass short and Dzeko chases it down, but Schwarzer is alert to the danger and boots it clear.

13 minSince the goal, it has been fairly uneventful here, but there has been plenty of action elsewhere in the Premier League. Loic Remy has scored on his debut to give QPR the lead at West Ham.

15 minDuff smartly turns away from Garcia and draws a foul out of the former Benfica man.

17 minCHANCE! Silva crosses towards Dzeko, who steers the ball goalwards but Schwarzer makes a comfortable save.

19 minSHOT! Silva cuts inside from the left and lays in Tevez, who tries to find the net from 25 yards but sends his low effort straight at Schwarzer.

21 minThere is a very slow pace to this game and Mancini isn't happy about it. He is out on the touchline signalling that he wants his players to pass the ball quicker.

23 minReither's cross from deep is bound for Dejagah at the far post but Zabaleta intercepts.

25 minSilva is unmarked on the left as the hosts counter attack but Milner overhits his cross field pass and Fulham are able to get men back and stall City's momentum.

27 minMilner cuts back onto his left foot and whips a ball into the danger zone which is just above the head of Carlos Tevez.

28 minBerbatov has hardly had a touch thus far and he appears frustrated as a pacey cross from Karagounis is off the mark.

29 minSHOT! Tevez picks the ball up in the Fulham half and drives forward, running across the visiting defence. He finds room to shoot but Hangeland blocks the tame effort.

31 minWOODWORK! Fulham hit the post with their first notable attack! Duff shifts the ball away from Clichy and delivers towards the back stick. Sidwell is attacking the cross and makes contact with his header, but Zabaleta is marking him closely and the effort flicks off the Argentine's shoulder and loops onto the post.

32 minMancini is again out of his seat, throwing his arms around in various directions, with the message seemingly that he wants the ball sprayed around at a quicker pace.

34 minTevez shows some tricky footwork and a change of pace to take on Hangeland and charge down the City right. He aims for Dzeko with his early cross but Richardson stretches out a leg to divert it for a throw.

36 minA foul is called on tough-tackling City midfielder Javi Garcia for a sliding challenge on his opposite number Steve Sidwell.

39 minExcellent work from Zabaleta as he pinches the ball away from Ruiz before rolling a follow-up challenge from the Costa Rican and releasing Silva, who is fouled as he attempts to launch a City counter.

41 minDejagah wrong foots Zabaleta with some smart skill and tries to thread in Berbatov, but Nastasic is aware of the danger and comes across to cover.

43 minI have mentioned that there is a slow tempo to this game, which you would have thought would suit Dimitar Berbatov. However, as of yet we have seen nothing of the Bulgarian.

45 minWe are now entering first-half stoppage time, of which there will be just one minute...

45+1 minSHOT! Tevez brilliantly controls a Silva pass before finding Dzeko, who strikes well but narrowly over the crossbar.

3.50pmHALF-TIME: Man City 1-0 Fulham

3.56pmSilva gave City a 2nd-minute advantage but since then this has been a bit of an anti-climax. We have seen little of either side going forward, with Steve Sidwell finding the post with a header in Fulham's only notable venture on the City goal. They may be leading, but Mancini is likely to have some stern words with the champions at the break as they have been sluggish thus far. Fulham are still in this one and if City don't improve, it only takes one moment of Berbatov magic to change the course of this contest.

3.58pmHere, you can read Sports Mole's half-time report on the fixture, courtesy of my colleague Liam Apicella.

4.00pmLet's have a look at the first-half stats then. Possession has been shared equally but City have had six shots on target compared to Fulham's one. Most of those did not cause Mark Schwarzer great concern, though.

45 minCity resume the action at the Etihad, with both sides unchanged...

47 minReither's pass backwards towards Sidwell is chased down by Tevez, who pinches the ball away from the Fulham man and runs at goal. He looks to have got away from Hughes and seems poised to shoot when the recovering Sidwell fairly robs the Argentine of the ball from behind.

48 minSHOT! Sidwell is involved again as unleashes a shot from the edge of the box which drifts harmlessly wide to the left of the goal.

51 minSHOT! Tevez follows Sidwell in trying his luck from long range but his swerving effort flies over the crossbar.

53 minBOOKING! Kieron Richardson becomes the first player to be cautioned this afternoon as he slides in on James Milner, who cleverly rolled the challenge and drew the foul.

56 minInjury worry for City, and a concerning one. Zabaleta is caught on the foot by Hangeland while competing for a 50-50 and falls to the floor in evident pain.

58 minThe reliable full-back has been a star performer for City this season and has become a real crowd favourite at Eastlands. They are cautiously silent as Zabaleta receives treatment.

59 minCHANCE! With Zabaleta being dealt with off the pitch, Silva whips in a corner which is flicked on by Kompany. Dzeko is in a great position to turn it into the net but cannot react in time to make sufficient contact and the ball falls kindly into Schwarzer's arms.

61 minSUBSTITUTION: Zabaleta did return to the field, but only temporarily and he is now reluctantly dragged off by Mancini, who brings on Samir Nasri in his place.

62 minThat change is likely to mean James Milner dropping to right-back, with Nasri operating in a more advanced position.

64 minBOOKING! Garcia is shown a yellow card for a cynical tug on Ruiz, who was trying to launch a rare Fulham attack.

66 minSUBSTITUTION: Fulham are now also being forced into a change in defence. Matthew Briggs is on at left-back after Richardson pulled up with a calf strain.

68 minGOAL! Man City 2-0 Fulham (David Silva)

69 minMarvelous team goal from City smartly finished by Silva, who has his second of the afternoon. He starts the move off with a pass out to Clichy on the left, whose ball into Tevez is superbly flicked into the path of Silva. He breaks into the box and dinks the ball over Schwarzer to ease any nerves that may have been surfacing in the City camp.

71 minCHANCE! Silva is put through one-on-one with Schwarzer and having already netted two this afternoon, scuffs his shot from 10 yards wide of the post. What an opportunity for the Spaniard to grab his first hat-trick in England!

72 minSUBSTITUTION: Jol replaces Ashkan Dejagah with Mladen Petric, who has proved that he has an eye for goal this season.

75 minJames Milner shows his competency as a makeshift right-back with an excellent sliding tackle on Duff, who was threatening to break into the box.

77 minSHOT! Reither's cross is cleared and City counter. Silva eventually frees Dzeko, who is forced out wide and can only shoot into the side netting from a tight angle. Good defending from Hughes.

80 minSUBSTITUTION: A warm ovation meets Sergio Aguero, who will get the final 10 minutes to loosen the hamstring that has kept him out of City's last two matches. Tevez is the man who makes way.

83 minSHOT! Superb interplay between Aguero and Silva, who each refuse openings to shoot at goal before the Spaniard lays the ball back for Dzeko, who strikes narrowly over first time. Lovely move from City which deserved a better finish.

84 minCity are very comfortable. Fulham have barely threatened all afternoon and are showing no signs of a late miracle here.

85 minCHANCE! Dzeko releases Aguero with a perfectly-weighted pass and the Argentine shows a deft touch to round Schwarzer. However, with the goal gaping, the substitute cannot make clean contact with his effort, which is cleared off the line by Hughes.

86 minSHOT! Another City replacement, Nasri, lets fly from the right edge of the box but the shot flies several yards wide.

87 minSHOT! City are peppering the Fulham goal in search of a third, with Milner forcing Schwarzer into a fine diving save with their latest effort.

89 minSUBSTITUTION: Two-goal hero Silva is granted a standing ovation from the home support as Joleon Lescott comes on in his place for the final stages.

90 minSHOT! Aguero displays his pace to get away from Briggs and latches onto a Nasri pass but shoots wide across goal.

90+1 minThere will be four additional minutes here at Eastlands...

90+3 minRuiz tries an ambitious pass with the outside of his foot towards Berbatov, but it finds a City defender. That just about sums up what has been a disappointing afternoon for Fulham's attacking duo.

90+3 minMISS! Clichy drives forward with energy not many others can find after 90 minutes and plays Dzeko in on goal. The Bosnian is unmarked six yards out for a seemingly simple tap in, but he balloons the attempted conversion into the stands.

4.53pmFULL-TIME: Man City 2-0 Fulham

4.56pmIt was not a vintage City display but the champions have done enough to see off a Fulham side who lacked any sort of attacking threat. David Silva bagged both goals for Roberto Mancini's side, who move to within four points of rivals United at the top of the table.

4.58pmLiam has been hard at work again! Here is his full-time report on the action at the Etihad Stadium.

5.00pmThat is it from me for this afternoon! Stay tuned with Sports Mole for Africa Cup of Nations, La Liga and Premier League coverage this evening. Over and out...

City forward Edin Dzeko taps in the second goal against Arsenal on January 13, 2013
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