MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27: Clint Dempsey of Fulham battles for the ball with Jerome Boateng of Manchester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Fulham at the City of Manchester Stadium on February 27, 2011 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Mark Hughes will be the happier of the two managers whose sides fought it out at the City of Manchester Stadium today, as Fulham continued a decent record in the North West with a respectable 1-1 draw.
A dogged display, however, was slightly marred by another handshake misdemeanor for Hughes, who is making a name for himself in such regard after a similar incident with Stoke's Tony Pulis.
The game started slowly and didn't liven up until around the 20 minute mark, as Fulham proved to be defensively astute, yet comfortable in possession. The Whites enjoyed a spell of dominance but this was quickly thwarted with an opportunistic strike by Italian Mario Balotelli. The striker picked the ball up outside the area and drifted into the centre before firing past a hapless Mark Schwarzer.
The Cottagers fought hard for a reply before half time but a first half resurgence never came with City holding firm.
Fulham continued to apply the pressure after the break and were rewarded almost immediately with a fine move which resulted in a clinical finish from winger Damien Duff. Hangeland picked up the ball and played a perfectly weighted pass to Andy Johnson, who yet again used his pace and knowhow to outwit the Manchester City defence and provide a goal on a plate for the Irishman.
It wasn't long before Mancini's men attempted to win back the lead, however, and a through ball to Carlos Tevez almost cost Fulham dearly. Hangeland, though, is a tough nut to crack, and with the pressure of the Norweigan, Tevez scuffed his shot; still prompting a diving save from 'keeper Mark Schwarzer.
City again came close as left back Alexander Kolorov fired a powerful, long range effort at Schwarzer's goal, and the Aussie had to pull off an impressive save the keep the full back out.
Fulham didn't lie down though, and as the game came to a close, Hughes showed blatant attacking intent with Duff causing most of the mayhem. No reward came, but, I'm sure the travelling fans were delighted with a well-earned point; which takes us up to 32.