Chelsea’s sizzling win over Arsenal on Saturday may command the headlines, but Manchester City answered the call with a comfortable 5-0 win over Fulham.
It was not vintage, attacking brilliance from City, but a hat-trick from midfield titan Yaya Toure and late goals from Fernandinho and Martin Demichelis secured the three points that keeps their title destiny in their own hands.
City took a bit of time to gain a foothold, but on 16 minutes James Milner flashed in a shot that was well saved by David Stockdale.
Fulham travelled to Manchester propping up the table, but they did not look overawed. Kieran Richardson went really close with a shot that drifted inches wide of the target.
But on 26 minutes, City got their noses in front. Alvaro Negredo tumbled under challenge in the box from Fernando Amorebieta, and Toure made no mistake from the spot.
Sascha Riether had a chance to draw Fulham level, but his header went just past the far corner.
Amorebieta was at fault for City’s penalty, but he went some way to atoning on 36 minutes when getting back on the line to clear David Silva’s goal-bound effort.
Aleksandar Kolarov rarely needs a second invitation to take a shot on goal, and he crashed an effort against the crossbar moments before half-time.
Having been both villain and hero, Amorebieta was the former at the start of the second half. A clumsy tackle felled Silva in the box, which earned him a second booking, and Toure slotted home his second penalty of the game.
Toure completed his hat-trick on 65 minutes when curling a superb effort that gave Stockdale no chance.
Yaya Toure has just sealed his first ever career hat-trick with his 16th goal in the EPL this season. pic.twitter.com/LYnLh5kb9V— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 22, 2014
Demichelis has been called some names this season, but he and Fernandinho both scored in the final 10 minutes to confirm City's superiority over a Fulham side who look sure to drop out of the top flight.
The win keeps City within six points of leaders Chelsea, although Manuel Pellegrini's men do have three games in hand.
Pellegrini was certainly happy with the win and performance. Speaking on the club’s official website, he said:
It was a complete performance because again we kept a clean sheet and that’s very important.
In the last part of the season, we must be a very balanced team, not only scoring five goals but keeping it tight also.
We had to be professional as Fulham defend very well usually, so when they score one goal it’s very difficult to get back into the game.
It was more difficult for Fulham with ten players but before the player was sent off, we had scored a goal and were looking good.
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City have their title destiny in their own hands, as a 100 percent run between now and the end of the season will secure the title.
That, though, does not tell the whole story as they face trips to Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool.