Edin Dzeko proved a super-sub by snatching a win at the death for reigning Premier League champions Manchester City as they edged Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
The Bosnian striker had been on the pitch for less than two minutes when a terrible clearing header from John Arne Riise fell straight to him and Dzeko lashed home to end Fulham’s run of four successive home victories.
It was City’s first win in five matches and came after Roberto Mancini’s side had fallen behind to an early Mladen Petric penalty.
But Sergio Aguero’s equaliser and Dzeko’s late intervention ensured their title defence got back on track.
Mancini named Aguero and Carlos Tevez in his starting line-up for only the second Premier League match this season, with Matija Nastasic again preferred to Joleon Lescott at the back.
Fulham were without new signing Dimitar Berbatov with a thigh injury and Martin Jol brought Petric and Bryan Ruiz into his side.
City had most of the possession in the early exchanges but were guilty of some sloppy passing in the final third.
By contrast, Fulham looked dangerous with the ball and the visitors’ defence were given a warning in the eighth minute when Hugo Rodallega just failed to control a lofted through-ball.
Little more than 60 seconds later though, Riise cut in form the left and was impeded by Pablo Zabaleta. The offence seemed to have taken place outside the box but referee Mark Halsey thought differently and Petric stepped up to slot home from the spot for his third goal of the season.
City looked slightly stunned but Tevez tried to find an immediate response with a shot from distance that was held by Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.