Premier League – Dempsey brace downs City

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Fulham came from behind to convincingly beat Manchester City 3-1 and register their second away win in this season’s Premier League at the City of Manchester Stadium.

FOOTBALL Manchester City's Stephen Ireland (left) and Fulham's Danny Murphy battle for the ball. - 0

Stephen Ireland gave Mark Hughes’s side a 28th minute lead after his shot was deflected past Mark Schwarzer from the edge of the area.

But a second-half rally by a reinvigorated Fulham left City with no reply; Clint Dempsey equalised for the Cottagers in the 50th minute, before Dickson Etuhu unleashed a powerful shot from outside the box to give his side the lead nine minutes later.

Dempsey then grabbed his second goal after Bobby Zamora had slipped the American through on goal in the 83rd minute to seal victory for Roy Hodgson’s side, against a City side bereft of ideas in a poor second half.

The game started at a sluggish pace, with City’s defence looking remarkably shakey early on, but Fulham were unable to take advantage.

A fine save from Shay Given at the feet of Bobby Zamora kept the hosts on terms and spared captain Richard Dunne‘s blushes after the defender had clumsily lost possession to Andy Johnson in the fourth minute.

Johnson then went down inside the penalty area under a challenge from Dunne a minute later, but referee Mark Halsey waved it away, with the striker left looking bewildered.

After a subdued opening to the first half, Ireland broke the deadlock with very little warning; the midfielder collected the ball on the left edge of the Fulham penalty area and his speculative shot deflected off Etuhu and past Schwarzer.

Valeri Bojinov, who was leading the line on his own for the home side, then drilled a low shot narrowly wide of Schwarzer’s near post, with Petrov in support screaming for the ball on the halfhour.

The first half petered out, with City happy to hold their lead and Fulham unable to get a foothold on proceedings.

But Fulham emerged after the break with renewed urgency and Hodgson’s reinvigorated side caught City napping.

Slack defending from the hosts enabled Clint Dempsey to slot home an equaliser after Paul Konchesky broke down the left and Zamora’s effort was not cleared as Richard’s clearance ricocheted into the path of Dempsey, who finished crisply.

Etuhu then made amends for his part in City’s goal, firing a fierce shot from the edge of the area past Given to give the Cottagers a 59th-minute lead and get his first goal for the club.

Two minutes later, Dunne blatantly tugged at Johnson’s shirt inside the penalty area, but the officials fail to see it, leaving the striker standing infuriated in the City half.

Robinho was among a flurry of second-half substitutions, and he cut inside and fired a low shot which Schwarzer fumbled as he gathered, just after the hour-mark, but the Brazilian produced little else.

Johnson had a great chance to put the game beyond City in the 70th minute, having his shot from close range blocked sharply by Nedum Onuoha after he had done well to forage a path into the area.

Hangeland then missed a glorious chance two minutes later, the big Norwegian stooping low to head into an empty net from 10 yards, but somehow putting it wide.

At the other end, Nigel de Jong stole in at the back post and met Zabaleta’s cross from out on the right, but the Dutchman did not make clean enough contact to beat Schwarzer.

City would rue their inability to claw themselves back into the game from 2-1 down, as Fulham stretched their lead.

Dempsey grabbed his second goal, and Fulham’s third, after the midfielder again found himself in a forward position and slotted home from Zamora’s through ball to put the game beyond doubt.

Ched Evans had a chance to get a goal back as he met Zabaleta’s deep cross at the back post but his effort was saved well by Schwarzer, diving low to his right to tip away in the 84th minute.

The win moves Fulham up into eighth place in the Premier League table, with Hughes’s side remaining in 11th.