Dempsey double sinks City

2009-04-12 19:30

Manchester - Fulham kept up their challenge for a European place as Clint Dempsey's double sealed a 3-1 victory at Manchester City on Sunday.

After 14 league matches without an away success this season, Roy Hodgson's side have now won their last two games away from Craven Cottage.

The west London team, who won at Bolton in their last away fixture, fell behind to Stephen Ireland's deflected first half strike at Eastlands, but produced an impressive second half display to move within one point of seventh placed West Ham.

Dempsey equalised soon after the interval and then former City trainee Dickson Etuhu put the Cottagers in front before Dempsey's second wrapped up the points.

City boss Mark Hughes's patience with Robinho finally snapped as he left the 32 million pounds club record signing on the bench after a series of lacklustre displays in recent weeks.

Robinho was on City midfielder Ireland's mind when he accused his team-mates of lacking fighting spirit after Thursday's 3-1 UEFA Cup quarter-final defeat at Hamburg.

Ireland certainly wasn't hiding and it was his pass that released Valeri Bojinov, only for the Bulgarian striker to lash his shot wide.

Richard Dunne presented Fulham with a chance when he misjudged a Simon Davies pass, allowing Bobby Zamora to turn and shoot. But City keeper Shay Given was equal to the effort.

Ireland showed City's slackers how to do it as he made the breakthrough in the 28th minute.

The midfielder ran from deep inside his own half without facing a single Fulham challenge. When he eventually decided to pull the trigger, his shot took a deflection off Fulham midfielder Etuhu before looping over Schwarzer and into the net.

Fulham have won just once on their travels this season, while only Manchester United have won more home games than City, but the visitors drew level in the 50th minute.

Pablo Zabaleta gifted possession to Bobby Zamora and, when Micah Richards slid in to tackle, the ball fell perfectly for Dempsey to slot past Given.

It was the first time Given had conceded at Eastlands since arriving from Newcastle in January and he was soon picking the ball out of the net again.

In the 59th minute City midfielder Nigel de Jong's weak clearance was seized on by Etuhu, who drove a fine strike past Given from the edge of the penalty area. Etuhu, playing against his brother Kelvin in City's midfield, had extra reason to celebrate as it was his first goal for the club.

Hughes responded by sending on Robinho and Daniel Sturridge and the strike duo combined to create a chance immediately. Sturridge's pass sent Robinho clear but the Brazilian's shot was too near Schwarzer.

Fulham scored their third in the 83rd minute. Zamora's pass caught Richards napping and Dempsey surged clear to deliver the knockout blow.