Dzeko gives points to shapeless City

Fulham 1 Manchester City 2: Late goal earns Mancini's men a first win in four but lack of chances will be a cause for concern

Finally, Manchester City conquer, but still don't truly convince. And, after a first victory in four games, the key question is whether they should be encouraged by another late win or concerned by the way it came about. That question was encapsulated in the nature of the decisive goal. Although Edin Dzeko's turn-and-finish was exquisitely executed, it arrived thanks to an awful defensive error from John Arne Riise.

Before that, City's approach did not look like fashioning such an opportunity. One Sergio Aguero header aside, too many second-half attacks ended with the ball blazed high or wide from distance.

The general lack of shape to the team resulted in a general lack of chances. It's been a recurring theme. To give City credit, though, it isn't the only theme that has been recurred, with one of them admirably reversed.

After a trailblazing start to last season, this fixture away to Fulham was the first time City dropped points, with the manner in which they lost a two-goal lead pointing to some of the problems they would encounter later in the campaign.

Those problems have continued into this season despite the way in which they won the title but, having come back from behind yesterday, the expectation from Roberto Mancini will have been raised. That's not to say the Italian thinks there were too many problems with City's recent displays. He is more willing to put them down to misfortune.

Such was the manner of Fulham's opening goal here, he could reasonably argue that again. Arne Riise went down under Pablo Zabaleta's challenge, although there was considerable doubt about whether the incident was inside the box or contact was made. There was no doubt, however, about Mladen Petric's finish as City again failed to keep a clean sheet.

"For me, it wasn't a penalty," Mancini insisted. "We are in an unlucky moment because we have had that three times in our last four games."

The only problem with primarily putting all that down to fortune is that it ignores the issues with shape that allowed it to happen in the first place. Quite simply, it was hard to say what formation City were playing. Gareth Barry appeared to be in defensive midfield but kept drifting; Aguero seemed to be a floating attacker but remained on the fringes. The idea was undoubtedly fluidity but, for the most part, all that was evident was shapelessness.

Fulham's manager, Martin Jol, agreed. "They played 4-3-3 with three midfield players and they don't do that all the time, but that was good for us." Very good. For the first half-hour, Hugo Rodallega and Bryan Ruiz were pulling off the kind of interchanges that eventually opened the space for Riise to run into. If City have not been convincing, though, it can't be said that they don't control games. That was again the case here as, after the goal, Fulham withdrew and Mancini's team won more and more of the ball.

After 43 minutes, Aguero saw enough of it to score. Having previously missed an easy enough header, the Argentinian was alert to divert home a Mark Schwarzer parry. The trouble for City was that they did not really make the Fulham keeper do much more of that. So, with his team looking less and less penetrative, Mancini threw on more attackers.Eventually, it told as substitute Dzeko struck. It is not, of course, the first time he's done that.

One of the curious patterns of last season was that, as excellent as City often were, up until March they had only scored one genuinely match-winning goal after the hour. The general pattern was that, if they were not winning by the hour they usually did not win at all as Mancini struggled to influence games.

Clearly, that changed dramatically in the run-in. It triggered the eventual win here. If it continues to be the case, there's more cause for encouragement than concern.

Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Reither, Hangeland, Hughes, Riise; Duff, Sidwell, Baird (Karagounis, 81), Rodallega; Ruiz, Petric (Kacaniklic, 65).

Manchester City(4-2-3-1): Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy; Garcia (Dzeko, 85), Barry (Nasri, 76); Y Touré, Silva, Aguero; Tevez (Balotelli, 65).

Referee: Mark Halsey

Man of the match: Silva (Manchester City)

Match rating: 6/10

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam