MANCHESTER, October 26 – Manchester City threw away a two-goal advantage to draw 2-2 with Fulham here at Eastlands on Sunday as their perfect home run in the Premier League this term came to an end.Second-half goals from Joleon Lescott and Martin Petrov put City in front before impressive finishes from Damien Duff and Clint Dempsey helped the visitors gain a remarkable point in an enthralling encounter.
Both sides made a host of changes with Kolo Toure, Craig Bellamy and Emmanuel Adebayor all starting for the home side while Duff and Dempsey started for Fulham after both began the midweek Europa League match with Roma on the bench.
John Pantsil also returned to Roy Hodgson’s starting XI to replace the injured Paul Konchesky and it was perhaps the amount of changes in both teams which explained why neither side could create a solid chance early on.
The game evolved into a thriller later on but in the opening stages there was very little quality on display.
After 18 minutes, Fulham finally created the first cast-iron opportunity but Diomansy Kamara’s poor control scuppered their hopes of taking the lead.
Bobby Zamora cleverly flicked the ball on to Kamara who evaded the offside flag to race through on goal but his touch was too heavy and he allowed the ball to run into the grateful arms of a sliding Shay Given.
Two minutes later, Adebayor thought he should have had a penalty when Stephen Kelly upended him in the box but replays showed that Kelly had made a wonderful sliding tackle that made contact with the ball rather than man.
All of a sudden City found a spark and Fulham had Australia international goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer to thank for rescuing them as he made a brilliant save to deny Nigel de Jong from point-blank range.
Fulham also settled down into the encounter and caused their own share of problems as Chris Baird’s shot only just went wide while Jonathan Greening also missed a fine chance, miscuing his volley from inside the penalty area.
City continued to push and Carlos Tevez’s header appeared to be goal-bound following an impressive Petrov corner but his effort skimmed onto the roof of the net as the breakthrough remained elusive.
As half-time approached City had what looked like a perfectly legal goal disallowed following another great Petrov corner.
The Bulgarian swung the ball inside the six-yard box and although Micah Richards leap seemed faultless, referee Kevin Friend spotted an infringement somewhere and ruled out his header.
Straight after the break, Fulham then missed perhaps the easiest chance of the season so far.
Kamara worked his way into the box and found Dempsey and although Given did well to save his shot, the ball bobbled free to Zamora who somehow blasted over when he had the goal at his mercy.
Fulham were then made to pay for their error when Lescott nudged home from less than a metre out from yet another City corner in the 53rd minute.
City then doubled their lead when Petrov managed to manoeuvre past a sliding Greening before slotting home.
That seemed to rubber-stamp a City win but Fulham then staged a remarkable recovery as firstly Duff slotted a fine drive past a helpless Given from the edge of the box, just two minutes after Petrov’s goal.
Then Dempsey brilliantly guided a Greening delivery into the back of the net to truly stun City just six minutes later.
Both sides went frantically looking for a winner but it would not arrive.
City will see this result as a huge opportunity missed because a win would have sent them third in the Premier League whereas Fulham will just be delighted they managed to salvage anything from the encounter.