Football: If, as Roberto Mancini predicted in the build-up to this match, his side are ultimately triumphant in regaining their league crown they won so dramatically last May, it is victories like this one which will be vital to their success.
Then again, it would be difficult to suggest that on this type of form, Mancini’s Manchester City will reclaim their league title. The slender win owed to the resilience and perseverance of an undoubtedly talented bunch of players that are finding things difficult at the moment.
He doesn’t show it, but the Italian must surely be concerned by a leaky defence. Against Martin Jol’s Fulham, they conceded early. However, goals from Sergio Aguero and late on from Edin Dzeko sealed a much-needed win that kept them in contact with their title rivals.
“We’ve been unlucky for three or four weeks when we had matches we deserved to win,” said Mancini, whose side came into the match on a winless run of four games.
“Against Fulham here it is always difficult. They are a good team, have good players, a good manager.”
He added: “This pitch is always tough for us, but the problem is we were 1-0 down and I don’t know why because the penalty was not a penalty.”
It started badly after defender Pablo Zabaleta was adjudged to have tripped John Arne Riise in the penalty area. Fulham’s Mladen Petric confidently put the spot-kick past goalkeeper Joe Hart.
City’s first-half efforts were disappointing. There was little in the way of cohesion and the forward line of Aguero, Carlos Tevez, David Silva and Yaya Toure struggled to impose themselves against their opponents.
Two minutes before the interval, the visitors were back in the match, in somewhat fortuitous circumstances, through Aguero, who tapped in the ball from close range.
Dzeko found the breakthrough minutes before the end of the match after coming on as a substitute.
This is an important week for Mancini. They face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League looking to bounce back from defeat at Real Madrid in the first round of matches in the competition earlier this month.