Tevez and Touré turn on the style to humiliate Hughes on home turf

Fulham 1 Manchester City 4

There was a time in the recent, chaotic history of Manchester City that had Diego Maradona turned up to watch one of their matches you might have wondered if there was an outside chance they were considering appointing him as manager.

Maradona was at Craven Cottage as a guest of the Fulham owner, Mohamed al-Fayed, and he was a good deal more accommodating than the home side's other guests yesterday. City took Fulham to the cleaners and, in doing so, played for the first time in their travels this season like a team with a power and authority in keeping with their ambition.

They did not look like the unpredictable group of assorted superstars whom even Kolo Touré was moved to suggest yesterday had, at some stages of the season, not "worked hard enough" for their "big wages". Shivering in the cold by the Thames, Maradona would have recognised the vast gulf in quality.

For Mark Hughes this occasion will not have matched his hopes for the day when he finally came face to face with the club that got rid of him; in fact, it could scarcely have been any worse. He was booed off at half-time with his team three goals down with the jeers breaking into chants for Zoltan Gera to be brought into the game.

From the City fans there was no love for their old manager; in fact, they pointedly chanted Roberto Mancini's name, which has become a habit for their away support. It will be the anniversary of Hughes' sacking by City next month and he approaches it with his Fulham team in 17th place and an owner who has sacked struggling managers in the past. Same problems, different end of the table.

Fulham were not even close against a City team who now have the league's top goalscorer in Carlos Tevez, who scored twice yesterday. It was Mancini's same 4-5-1 formation that has proved so frustrating and conservative in the past but the first goal from Tevez settled them down and for long periods of the first half they passed Fulham off the pitch.

Mancini surprised everyone by picking Jo for his first Premier League start in a City shirt since October 2008 on the left side of his midfield. Aside from Tevez, the really sparkling performance in attack came from David Silva, who found space and passes all afternoon that Fulham could do nothing about.

In defence, Vincent Kompany and Kolo Touré were exceptional, although the latter really had to be after taking most of his team-mates to task across three pages of the News of the World. At left-back Aleksandar Kolarov looks like a really decent prospect who should have scored himself when he ran clear on goal in the first half.

The first goal came on six minutes when Tevez turned Carlos Salcido easily on the edge of the area and clipped his shot past Mark Schwarzer. It set the tone for a brutal afternoon for Salcido and it seemed to liberate City.

Against Manchester United at home 11 days ago, City never picked up on the signs that their opposition were vulnerable. Yesterday they seemed to sense Fulham's fragility from the start and pursued their opposition like the uncompromising, elite side that they aspire to be. Hughes' team were very poor at times but it required City to be adventurous to win this game.

City's second goal just after half an hour was a mess of defending by Fulham, Chris Baird being beaten twice by Silva, whose cross was deflected by Damien Duff to Pablo Zabaleta, who whipped his shot into the top corner.

Hughes was brave to play a 4-4-2 formation against Mancini's more conservative line-up because it meant that Fulham were always going to be out-numbered in midfield. In that situation a manager must hope that his two strikers make that advantage count, but Andy Johnson and Clint Dempsey found themselves corralled all afternoon.

Mancini's team went into half-time three ahead with the third arriving at the end of a sequence of 24 passes. The last one was Tevez finding Yaya Touré, deployed as the most advanced of Mancini's midfielders, who ran in the inside right channel where he took the ball and beat Schwarzer at his far post.

Hughes did bring on Gera at half-time for Damien Duff and the Hungarian made a slight difference in the second half, offering Fulham more variation to their attacks they were able to mount. Before the hour, however, Hughes' team found themselves four behind. Tevez was fortunate this time – Zabaleta's shot from the edge of the area. after a poor clearance from Dickson Etuhu, was hit straight at the Argentine and, although his flick did not come off as planned, it was enough to redirect the ball past Schwarzer.

Fulham's one goal of the game was similar – a shot from Gera that Dempsey managed to deflect past Joe Hart, but by then the home support were leaving.

Mancini's team are only three points off Chelsea in first place in a league which, with its wildly varying fortunes this year, is allowing the top sides to make mistakes and still remain in contention.

For one afternoon at least City played as their owners would like them to do and there can be no doubt, as Hughes himself agreed afterwards, that they are title contenders. What is a great deal less certain is which version of Mancini's team will turn up at Stoke City in five days' time.

Match facts

Substitutes: Fulham Gera (Duff, h-t), Etuhu (Kamara, h-t). Unused Stockdale (gk), Kelly, Pantsil, Dikgacoi, Greening. Manchester City A Johnson (Tevez, 77), Vieira (Barry, 82), Milner (Silva, 89). Unused Given (gk), Boyata, Wright-Phillips, Adebayor.

Booked: Fulham Etuhu, A Johnson Manchester City Zabaleta.

Man of the match Silva. Match rating 7/10.

Possession Fulham 43% Manchester City 57%.

Shots on target Fulham 3 Manchester City 9.

Referee L Mason (Lancashire). Attendance 25,694.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence