Match Report: Manchester City find David Silva lining in routine win

Manchester City 2 Fulham 0

Etihad Stadium

Gran Canaria, the island that raised David Silva, is volcanic but for much of this season their most famous footballing export has  been dormant.

There seemed no reason why this graceful midfielder should have seen his touch abandon him, however temporarily. He had played far more of a role in Spain’s retention of their European Championship than he had in their winning of the World Cup. He was returning to a club where he had won the title.

Had that touch not returned, this would have been an afternoon that was memorable only for the cold, a match as featureless as any Siberian tundra.

Technically, Manchester City could have got away without employing a goalkeeper. Fulham mounted one significant attempt on Joe Hart’s goal, a cross that skimmed Steve Sidwell’s head and the outside of the post.

The match was competitive for the opening 95 seconds until Silva struck for the first time. From the viewpoint of Martin Jol, Fulham’s manager, everything about it was sloppy, from midfielder Giorgios Karagounis squandering possession to Mark Schwarzer’s weak save from Edin Dzeko’s long-range shot which allowed Silva to swoop on the rebound.

Jol was asked if he was fearful when his side conceded with fewer than two minutes gone. “Fearful is a good word,” he said. “We were very concerned but scoring early doesn’t always help you and City lost concentration.

“But they had David Silva, who on his day can be the best player in the Premier League, but it was still  disappointing we couldn’t score an equaliser to frustrate them.

“I know Vincent Kompany well and he had five or six headers in his own box but they were easy ones because our final ball wasn’t great. Frankly, if you are one down so early, you are your own worst enemy.”

Mostly, the match trundled along without suggesting it would ever rise above the routine. The difference between playing the Manchester clubs on their own grounds is that, defensively, United offer their  opponents chances at Old Trafford that seldom come at the Etihad.

In their last four home games – against Reading, Stoke, Watford and now Fulham – the champions rarely looked like conceding. Here, however, City were labouring to score the second that would have made the afternoon safe when Carlos Tevez back-heeled Gaël Clichy’s pass into Silva’s path.

With his markers behind him and Schwarzer attempting to narrow the angle, Silva directed his shot over the goalkeeper’s body and saw it strike the post before trickling in.

Moments later, in a similar move, a hat-trick beckoned but this time, after skipping through the Fulham defence, Silva’s shot went the other side of the post.

That back four did not include John Arne Riise, although Jol denied that the left-back had refused to travel to Manchester. “John is a fantastic boy,” he said. “But I was not happy with him when Stewart Downing scored his first Liverpool goal [in a 4-0 defeat at Anfield last month]. He is not happy about that but he did not refuse to come.”

Dimitar Berbatov might not have bothered. It was too cold and raw for him to be hanging around the goal, though he did throw a tantrum when Bryan Ruiz’s cross failed to pick him out. Berbatov was so irrelevant, the crowd forgot to boo him on the grounds he used to play for United.

The images on City’s electronic scoreboard were considerably more entertaining than much of what was going on underneath.

Before the match, Pablo Zabaleta was shown in a Batman-style  sequence – the camp 1960s one with Adam West rather than The Dark Knight. The film showed the Argentinian colliding with opponents to “ker-pows” and “ker-splats”. However, when reality called, he collided with Brede Hangeland and was forced off with a twisted ankle.

Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Hart; Zabaleta (Nasri, 63),  Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy; Garcia, Barry; Milner, Tevez  (Aguero, 81), Silva (Lescott, 89); Dzeko.

Fulham (4-4-1-1): Schwarzer; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Richardson (Briggs, 67); Duff, Sidwell, Karagounis, Dejagah (Petric, 73); Ruiz; Berbatov.

Referee: Jon Moss

Man of the match: Silva (Manchester City)

Match rating: 5/10

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
news
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Sport
Brendan Rodgers looks on from the touchline
SPORT
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick