Manchester City struck two early goals before seeing off a heavy snow storm to open up a three-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

Sergio Aguero opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Adam Johnson had been tripped by Chris Baird.

City's lead was then doubled when Baird turned Johnson's cross-shot beyond his own goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.

Play had to be halted twice to allow groundstaff to clear snow from the lines before Edin Dzeko added a third.

Mancini praises 'important' win

At one point midway through the second half, the heavy snowfall posed a real threat to the fixture as referee Mike Dean twice stopped play to allow the lines around both penalty areas to be cleared with shovels.

City's title rivals - and Fulham - would certainly have been pleased with a postponement but, shortly after Dzeko's third goal, the weather improved and the game was able to conclude with Roberto Mancini's men maintaining their 100% home record.

After defeat to Everton last time out  , City were in need of a strong performance and victory was never in doubt from the moment Aguero broke the deadlock after 10 minutes.

Referee Dean was quick to award a spot-kick when Johnson was sandwiched between Baird and Brede Hangeland, although replays suggested that the England winger initiated contact by flicking out his leg as he went down.

Aguero thumped in his 18th goal of the season from the spot, smashing the ball high to Mark Schwarzer's left.

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This was Roberto Mancini's 50th league victory in his reign at Manchester City

In-form Fulham forward Clint Dempsey sent a speculative effort wide from 30 yards before Dzeko failed to make proper contact as he looked to get on the end of a shot from Aleksandar Kolarov.

Fulham belatedly began to pose a threat as fit-again Simon Davies hit a low shot at Joe Hart at the end of a flowing move before David Silva exchanged a sumptuous one-two with Aguero before dragging his low shot just wide from 15 yards.

That triggered an intense period of pressure from the home side, Johnson and Silva both going close from range before the hapless Baird bundled in the second.

Kolarov whipped in a cross from left which Aguero helped on with a deft flick, Johnson put the ball back across goal and Baird could only divert past Schwarzer from close range.

The hosts could have had another penalty when Silva went down under a challenge from Dickson Etuhu before Senderos almost added to the own goal tally when he turned Micah Richards' cross goalwards, but Schwarzer saved.

Jol admits Fulham were second best

Fulham had their share of possession but City looked lethal on the break.

Twice they sprang clear from Fulham corners at pace as first Aguero and then Dzeko should have added to the scoreline after being played in.

The snowfall intensified during half-time and there was a notable dip in action when play resumed.

Danny Murphy tested Joe Hart with a 20-yard shot before referee Dean brought play to a halt on the hour mark to allow staff to come on and clear the lines.

Baird hit a low free-kick which Hart saved before play again stopped to allow the snow to be cleared.

But any City concerns over the result were quickly eased as the snow eased off, and Dzeko fired in the third.

Aguero showed great balance to keep his feet and skip past the injured Philippe Senderos and tee up Dzeko to drive in from close range.

Dzeko then hit his own post when he diverted Bryan Ruiz's corner past Joe Hart and there was time for City to hand a debut to new loan signing David Pizzaro as Mancini saw his side record a 17th straight league win at home to put the pressure on city rivals Manchester United ahead of their Sunday trip to Chelsea.

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