Tue, Nov 23, 2010 - Page 18 News List

City humble Cottagers to ease pressure on Mancini

FULHAM FLOORED:Argentine legend Diego Maradona was in the crowd and he watched his fellow countrymen Carlos Tevez and Pablo Zabaleta score as City turned on the style

Reuters, LONDON

Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez, second right, scores the first goal of the match between Fulham and Manchester City at Fulham’s Craven Cottage stadium in London on Sunday.

PHOTO: EPA

Manchester City turned on the style in front of Diego Maradona to humble Fulham 4-1 on Sunday and reclaim fourth place in the English Premier League.

Maradona, a guest of Fulham at Craven Cottage, watched his Argentine compatriot Carlos Tevez score twice as City eased the pressure on manager Roberto Mancini.

In Sunday’s earlier game, Blackburn Rovers gave their new Indian owners an immediate return with a 2-0 victory over Aston Villa at Ewood Park.

Tevez struck first for City in the sixth minute and set up Yaya Toure for City’s third after just 35 minutes.

In between, another Argentine, Pablo Zabaleta, made it two, before Tevez provided the final flourish after halftime.

“It was a fantastic performance,” Mancini told Sky Sports. “It is difficult to win [away from home]. If we play like that, we can win everywhere.”

City are on 25 points, three behind joint leaders Chelsea and Manchester United.

Mancini’s multimillion-pound squad had scored only three goals and taken five points from their last five matches to leave their fans frustrated with the Italian and his cautious style.

In west London, against the team managed by his predecessor at City Mark Hughes, the club’s expensive players showed their potential.

Tevez set the tone when he cleverly rolled defender Carlos Salcido to collect a pass from Gareth Barry and finish low past Mark Schwarzer.

Spaniard David Silva’s low cross was cleared by Damien Duff into the path of Zabaleta, who drove a fizzing 20m shot past Schwarzer.

Toure then benefited from Tevez’s neat pass, the Ivory Coast midfielder surging past a -defender, before drilling home from an angle.

Tevez enjoyed some luck for City’s fourth in the 56th minute. Zabaleta’s shot was heading for Schwarzer’s hands, before Tevez stuck out a foot and the ball looped over the bemused Australian goalkeeper.

“I think it was the best we’ve played this year,” Barry said. “We knew it was a good chance to make an impression today. We try not to worry about [the criticism] too much.”

Fulham, whose consolation came from a deflected Zoltan Gera effort in the 70th minute, are fourth from bottom, clear of the relegation zone only on goal difference.

“City were excellent — credit to them and Mancini, but we allowed it to happen,” Hughes said. “We lost belief after the first goal and needed to be more aggressive in closing them down. It was another wake-up call for us.”

Blackburn, Premier League champions in 1995, were bought by Indian poultry firm Venky’s on Friday in a deal worth £54 million (US$86 million) and company directors Balaji Rao and Venkatesh Rao were welcomed on to the pitch by Rovers fans before kick-off.

Norwegian midfielder Morten Gamst Pedersen scored both goals for the home side, striking in first-half stoppage-time when his free-kick out by the touchline was misjudged by Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel and the ball sailed into the top corner.

He sealed the points in the 66th minute, reacting sharply after Villa failed to clear a corner.

Frenchman Robert Pires, the former Arsenal and Villarreal player, made his Villa debut as a substitute, but could not drag his new teammates back into the match.

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