Mark Hughes' decision to leave Robinho on the bench backfired as his team were booed off after a woeful home defeat to Fulham.
A Clint Dempsey brace either side of a fine Dickson Etuhu volley against his former club kept up Fulham's unlikely pursuit of a UEFA Cup place and piled the pressure on Hughes.
Stephen Ireland had put the Blues in front with his 12th goal of the season but City lacked punch in attack and not even the introduction of their Â£32.5million record signing in the 63rd minute could change that.
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