Jol forgives Johnson
Fulham manager Martin Jol has forgiven Adam Johnson for the gamesmanship that helped Manchester City on their way to an important 3-0 win at the Etihad Stadium.
With just three wins from their last nine games and facing opposition who had lost just once on their last eight away games with City, the Blues needed a fast start. And they got it when referee Mike Dean decided Chris Baird had fouled Johnson in the box, even though TV replays showed it was the City winger who had initiated the contact.
"I was surprised at the penalty but if you look at it again, maybe Johnson did well," said Jol. "I had a few players in the past who did that. We all tried it when we were younger. The referee has to make a decision but I still think it was a soft one."
Sergio Aguero took advantage from the spot to give the hosts a ninth-minute lead and with Chris Baird netting an own goal and Edin Dzeko tapping home after the break, City were able to open up a three-point lead over Manchester United at the top of the table.
Jol did concede that City should have had a penalty when Dickson Etuhu sent David Silva tumbling later in the contest, but on that occasion Dean waved play on.
For City manager Roberto Mancini, it marked the end of a difficult period.
And with Yaya Toure only due to miss one more fixture now the Ivory Coast have sealed a place in the African Nations Cup semi-finals, Mancini can look forward with confidence once more.
"It was an important win for the team," said Mancini. "Maybe after tonight something can change because January was a difficult month. "Now maybe we can go in a good way."
The City manager confirmed Samir Nasri had been forced off with a muscle strain at the start of the second half.
However, with David Pizarro introduced for his debut, Vincent Kompany's absence with a knee injury likely to be short and Mario Balotelli set to complete his four-match ban when he misses next Sunday's trip to Aston Villa, City do have strength in depth.