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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
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