Sheikh Mansour’s millions may have provided the cast, Manchester City Council the stage and Mark Hughes the direction for this season’s grand production, but even in such auspicious circumstances, every show needs a slice of luck to thrive.
That Manchester City left Eastlands with even a point suggests they are blessed with that, too.
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Fulham 0 Chelsea 2: match report
Two consecutive draws, at Aston Villa and Wigan, have halted their unrelenting early-season progress, and for 50 minutes here City’s performance was enough to suggest they would be fortunate even to earn a third. Their passing was sluggish, their play disjointed.
Fulham, rarely impressive away from Thameside and struggling in the lower reaches of the table, looked far the more comfortable. Then Bobby Zamora intervened with the sort of miss which will have him waking in cold sweats and the game changed irrevocably.
Four goals in 20 minutes, two apiece, injected some life into a plodding, lethargic contest, but it all stemmed from the moment, 120 seconds into the second half, that Zamora won the part of Eastlands’ favourite clown.
Had he scored, this could have been a very tearful afternoon indeed for Hughes.
Diomansy Kamara, who had himself dawdled at the feet of Shay Given, when his strike partner set him through early in the opening period, picked out Clint Dempsey, who saw his shot well parried by the Irish international.
The rebound fell to Zamora, six yards out, the goal entirely at his mercy. The ball sprang from his right boot, wild, into the South Stand.
The laughter had barely died down when Lescott gave the hosts the lead, bundling in from a yard after both Gareth Barry and Emmanuel Adebayor had failed to convert Craig Bellamy’s corner.
When Martin Petrov curled home from the edge of the box scarcely three minutes later, City should have been out of sight. Fulham, though, are not as accommodating as once they were.
Damien Duff halved the deficit from Zamora’s knockdown before Clint Dempsey outjumped the static Joleon Lescott, all £24 million of him, to bounce a gentle header past the sprawling Given from Jonathan Greening‘s free kick.
It could have been worse for Hughes’s side, too, as their visitors, reinvigorated, wasted a succession of chances, most notably through Brede Hangeland - his header well saved by Given - and, of course, Zamora. That they rode their luck, though, bodes well. A lesser team would have crumbled.
This incarnation of City know the show has to go on.