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Page last updated at 14:40 GMT, Saturday, 6 December 2008

Fulham 1-1 Man City

By Owen Phillips

Fulham's Jimmy Bullard (l) challenges Manchester City's Vincent Kompany
Fulham's Jimmy Bullard challenges Manchester City's Vincent Kompany

Jimmy Bullard's fine strike saw Fulham come from behind and deny Manchester City a rare away victory.

Benjani nodded the visitors ahead when he outmuscled two Fulham defenders to head in Pablo Zabaleta's teasing cross.

But Fulham levelled following a flowing move which culminated in Bullard smashing the ball past keeper Joe Hart.

Both sides had chances to win the game with Andrew Johnson and Bobby Zamora going close for Fulham and Zabaleta having a rasping shot tipped just wide.

A City winner would have been harsh on a Fulham side who undoubtedly had the bulk of possession and created the better chances.

No complaints from Hodgson after draw

Heading into the match the Londoners boasted the second best home record in the Premier League and must have fancied their chances against a normally travel-sick Manchester City team, who had won just one away league game this season.

But within five minutes their hopes of earning a sixth win out of eight home matches were under threat.

Zabaleta worked his way to the byeline and his superb far-post cross was met by Benjani who showed great desire to leap highest and head the ball past Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer.

Within moments Stephen Ireland could have added a second only to drag his shot wide.

But Fulham, who were unchanged for the fourth successive match, recovered from a shaky opening minutes and began to look more like the formidable home side they are.

Hart bravely saved at the feet of the ever-lively Johnson and also did well to block Zamora's close-range effort.

Roy Hodgson's men then had strong claims for a penalty dismissed by referee Rob Styles when Johnson's clever first touch caught Richard Dunne off guard and the big defender seemed to use his arm to knock the ball behind for a corner.

But Fulham were deservedly level on 27 minutes thanks to a wonderful goal from the excellent Bullard.

Hughes content with draw at Fulham

The England hopeful started the move in his own half and continued his run into the box where he latched on to Zamora's astute pass and his powerful drive was too hot for Hart.

Watching England boss Fabio Capello could not have failed to have been impressed with Bullard's display, or that of team-mate Johnson.

Johnson and partner Zamora were a constant menace to City's much-changed rearguard who clearly missed the physical presence and pace of the injured Micah Richards.

Fulham were playing with confidence and should have made more of their chances against a jaded-looking City outfit.

Clint Dempsey shot wastefully wide after a sweeping move and deft touch from Johnson and he then headed over from 10 yards when he should have at least tested Hart.

After the break Zamora also blasted over after more good work by Johnson and then sent a fine low right-foot drive a fraction wide.

City may have been without the trickery and flair of Brazilian duo Robinho and Elano but Shaun Wright-Phillips and Benjani were both posing problems and the latter unleashed a fierce 20-yard strike that went narrowly wide.

The dangerous Zabaleta saw his rasping low shot flicked past the post by Schwarzer and Tal Ben-Taim tried his luck with an ambitious long-range strike that fizzed over the bar.

Zabaleta was City's main attacking threat after the break and another marauding run saw him crash a shot at Schwarzer.

Guvnors grub

Fulham desperately searched for a late winner with Bullard's thumping free-kick producing an acrobatic save from Hart and Zamora somehow contriving to completely miss the ball five yards from goal.

But City defended bravely and despite late pressure they held on for their third away point from the last 18.

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson:
"They defended well and had the advantage of the early goal when we started the game poorly.

"But we got ourselves going and at half time I thought we were looking the stronger.

"But I can't complain. The boys gave it everything. We met a team that worked hard for their point away from home as we have done at times this season."

Manchester City manager Mark Hughes:
"We had a lot of players unavailable but we were quite comfortable and had a good shape about us.

"We were missing key players but we managed to stay solid.

"Overall we were always comfortable. I didn't think they asked too many questions of us. I don't think they created too much in open play."

Fulham: Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Davies, Murphy, Bullard, Dempsey, Johnson, Zamora.
Subs Not Used: Zuberbuhler, Nevland, Gera, Etuhu, Stoor, Andreasen, Kallio.

Booked: Pantsil, Bullard.

Goals: Bullard 27.

Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Dunne, Ben-Haim, Ball, Wright-Phillips, Kompany, Hamann, Vassell, Ireland, Mwaruwari (Evans 77).
Subs Not Used: Schmeichel, Berti, Onuoha, Logan, Jo, Caicedo.

Booked: Ireland.

Goals: Mwaruwari 6.

Att: 24,012

Ref: Rob Styles (Hampshire).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Fulham's Jimmy Bullard 8.08 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
Live text - Premier League
06 Dec 08 |  Premier League
Saturday's football photos
06 Dec 08 |  Football

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