Toure leads rout as City warm up for more daunting assignments
Intensity and aggression unnecessary as City saunters in to leave Fulham fuming
Yaya Toure of Manchester City celebrates scoring his hat trick during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Fulham at Etihad Stadium in Manchester at the weekend. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images
Fulham proved obliging opponents for a team entering a defining week in their Premier League season, little more than a means for Manchester City to improve the goal difference that Yaya Toure believes could be crucial come the finale.
But ideal preparation? Not quite. Intensity and aggression were unnecessary as City sauntered to victory and left Felix Magath fuming at his team’s “lack of fight”. A bruised Manchester United and a battered Arsenal may not be so accommodating.
“Both games are important because we have to be sharp, clever and strong,” said Toure who, with the superb James Milner, led the dissection of the league’s bottom club. “United are not doing so well but you have to be careful against them and Arsenal, after losing to Chelsea, will be hungrier and want their fans to believe again.
“People have been describing United as being not so good at the moment, but we have to be careful because derbies are never the same and they will have a lot of desire to try to beat us.”
Sergio Aguero is expected to miss tomorrow’s trip to Old Trafford with a hamstring injury but return at the Emirates on Saturday. In the absence of the Argentinian and the ill Edin Dzeko, and with Alvaro Negredo low on confidence, Toure took responsibility to rout Fulham with his first hat-trick in English football.
The treble arrived from two penalties conceded by Fernando Amorebieta, a soft kick up Negredo’s backside and a clear trip on David Silva leading to his dismissal early in the second half, plus a stunning shot curled just inside David Stockdale’s left-hand post from 25 yards.
The Ivory Coast international now has 20 goals for the season from midfield and a convincing response to criticism that his defensive duties are occasionally abandoned.
Fernandinho and Martin Demichelis completed the scoring on an afternoon when most of City’s brightest moments involved the tireless Milner. The spread of goals and chances – Milner, Aleksandar Kolarov, Silva and Negredo could have added to the scoresheet – reflected a well-balanced, potent side.
Fulham boss, Magath was damning in his assessment of a display that began resolutely and with purpose, yet ended the moment the referee, Jonathan Moss, penalised Amorebieta for the first spot-kick.
“It was too easy for them in the end,” said the Fulham manager. “The last 30 minutes were poor because we lacked fight. We still had 10 players on the field. We had started well but we stopped playing. There was a lack of fight. Guardian Service