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Feb 5, 2012

Johnson rejects diving accusation

Adam Johnson insists he did not take a dive to set up Manchester City 11th straight home win of the Premier League season.

•  Manchester City 3-0 Fulham

Johnson was criticised for going to ground too easily when winning a ninth minute penalty for City against Fulham, with Chris Baird penalised for a foul.

But Johnson did win support from Fulham boss Martin Jol, who admitted he had managed players who would have done exactly the same thing. But, after being an integral figure in Saturday's 3-0 win, Johnson claimed he did nothing wrong. "I felt the contact,'' the England winger told the BBC.

"Sometimes in normal time, when you are in the moment, you anticipate contact. There is a fine line between diving and anticipating contact but I felt it and went down. These things happen.''

City had good reason to be thankful for Johnson's actions. With just three wins in their last nine games, facing opposition that had lost just once in eight visits to the Etihad Stadium and in conditions so bad referee Mike Dean had to stop the game twice after half-time so the lines could be cleared of snow, the Blues might have been ripe for a shock.

Instead, they strolled to a 17th consecutive Premier League home win, just two behind the record held by Manchester United. Nevertheless, not everyone was entirely happy. "It was an horrendous game,'' said City keeper Joe Hart.

"It was cold. We weren't great and they weren't great and the standard was horrendous. It is what you expect in conditions like that. But we have got it out of the way now and hopefully it won't happen again.''

Hart might have been feeling grumpy due to the long periods of time he spent with nothing to do on a bitterly cold evening when even the supporters were amusingly begging Dean to call time before schedule.

Fulham offered little as an attacking threat until John-Arne Riise had a shot saved by Hart, by which time they were already three goals down. Sergio Aguero bagged the first when he converted that early spot-kick, then set-up Edin Dzeko later in a eye-catching moment of unselfishness.

The South American nearly created another for himself too, part of an overall contribution that contrasts with the non-appearance of fellow countryman Carlos Tevez, who remains in Argentina but at least avoided playing in a testimonial for good friend Martin Palermo on Saturday night.

Johnson's contribution cannot be understated either. So often the subject of critical comments from his manager, the £7 million former Middlesbrough winger was a constant menace, forcing Baird into conceding an own goal that effectively wrapped up the points after just half an hour.

"Adam did well,'' said manager Roberto Mancini. "He deserved to have this chance and I hope he can continue because now we have three important months and we need him.''

Yaya Toure's brilliant goal for the Ivory Coast in their African Nations Cup triumph over Sudan means the midfielder will be missing for another week, plus, in all likelihood, the Europa League last-32 first-leg trip to Porto on February 16.

Skipper Vincent Kompany should have shrugged off a minor knee injury in time to face Aston Villa next Sunday, though, when City will look to put recent difficulties away from home behind them. "This win was important after a difficult moment,'' said Mancini.

"We shouldn't think about the other teams. We know if we want to win the title, we should win a lot of games from now until the end of the season.''

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