Manchester City’s perfect start to the Premier League season continued on Saturday as they secured a 5-1 victory over a spirited Fulham.
It took a while for the defending champions to get going but Julian Alvarez eventually poked his side ahead, only for Tim Ream to square things up almost immediately, but City would end the first half ahead when Nathan Ake headed home shortly before the whistle.
Erling Haaland got himself in on the fun on the hour mark, netted a second from the penalty spot ten minutes later to remove any doubt about the result and thundered home a third in stoppage time.
Four wins from four for City, who remain top of the league, while Fulham remain in the bottom half.
How the game unfolded
It was a cagey (in other words, boring) start to the game, with Fulham understandably cautious and City surprisingly sloppy in possession.
Unlike the spectators baking in the Manchester sunshine, Fulham were comfortable for the first 25 minutes but did receive a warning when Phil Foden got in behind and volleyed a cross straight across the six-yard box in the direction of Haaland, who was a few yards away from making contact.
Foden looked like the danger man as his mazy run into the box was followed by another cut-back which, yet again, failed to find its giant Norwegian target.
The first shot of the game came 31 minutes in, and it ended up in the back of the net courtesy of Alvarez, who tapped home from six yards after a square-ball from Haaland.
With the floodgates now opened, Fulham went straight up the other end and equalised as Ream was there to mop up the scraps after Raul Jimenez’s strike was parried into his path.
But it would be City who had the last laugh of the first half as Ake headed home from a corner and survived a nervy VAR check, which controversially decided that the offside Manuel Akanji did not impact the play. The Fulham players protested at length before being ushered down the tunnel for half-time.
Haaland finally got himself involved in the game shortly before the hour mark as he pounced on a mistake from Ream and, obviously, sent the ball rolling into the back of the net to give City some breathing room.
Clearly feeling more comfortable, City were presented the chance for a fourth as Alvarez was dumped to ground by Issa Diop, and Haaland made no mistake from 12 yards.
The goal took the wind out of Fulham’s sails and Haaland would be celebrating once again as he collected a pass from Sergio Gomez and crashed home with the final act of the game.
GK: Ederson – 5/10 – Perhaps should have done a little better for Fulham’s opener. Wasn’t involved a whole lot outside of that.
RB: Kyle Walker – 6/10 – Nothing special but not a whole lot wrong. Dealt with De Cordova-Reid well enough.
CB: Ruben Dias – 7/10 – Very solid defensively aside from his decision to drag Harry Wilson down by his throat. Fortunate to stay on the pitch but made the most of his continuation.
CB: Manuel Akanji – 6/10 – Akanji’s unpunished offside will be the talking point from this game but he did well enough either side of that moment of controversy.
LB: Nathan Ake – 7/10 – Took his header very well in what was a typically impressive showing from Ake.
DM: Rodri – 6/10 – Not at his best on the ball. Guilty of some sloppy passes but coupled that with some excellent moments of possession. Loves a cynical foul.
DM: Mateo Kovacic – 5/10 – Looked uncomfortable in what ended up being an advanced role. Surprisingly poor with his passing.
RM: Phil Foden – 7/10 – City’s danger man in the first half. Foden looked a threat whenever he got on the ball and was inches away from having a handful of assists.
AM: Julian Alvarez – 7/10 – Nice composure for his simple goal. Struggled to link things up in the first half but created Haaland’s first and won the penalty for his second.
LM: Jeremy Doku – 6/10 – Not involved as much as he would have hoped for his debut. Some real flashes of quality when he did get going, however.
ST: Erling Haaland – 8/10 – A smart assist and three solid goals. It wasn’t even Haaland’s best performance but you can’t argue with the results.
SUB: Bernardo Silva (76′ for Rodri) – 6/10
SUB: Sergio Gomez (76′ for Doku) – 6/10
SUB: Kalvin Phillips (84′ for Kovacic) – N/A
SUB: Rico Lewis (90′ for Alvarez) – N/A
SUB: Oscar Bobb (90′ for Foden) – N/A
Subs not used: Stefan Ortega (GK), Scott Carson (GK), Josko Gvardiol, Matheus Nunes
Juan Manuel Lillo – 6/10 – In place of the recovering Pep Guardiola, Lillo’s City side were far from their best but their relentless quality in attack carried them over the line.
GK: Bernd Leno – 5/10 – Really unfortunate to see Ake’s header fizz behind him and could do very little about everything else that came his way.
RB: Kenny Tete – 5/10 – Couldn’t get forward a whole lot and struggled up against Doku on the rare occasions he got going.
CB: Tim Ream – 6/10 – Didn’t seem scared of Haaland at all but did make a costly mistake for City’s third. Unfortunate after what was a solid showing for the American.
CB: Issa Diop – 5/10 – Some solid moments of last-ditch defending to keep Haaland quiet but struggled when City ran at him. Poor defending for the penalty.
LB: Antonee Robinson – 6/10 – A classy performance against a team who always seem to be linked with him. Foden made him work hard but Robinson put up a good fight.
DM: Harrison Reed – 6/10 – Anchored his midfield pretty well. Clearly made Alvarez uncomfortable in between the lines.
CM: Tom Cairney – 5/10 – Did what he could to help before being forced off with an early injury.
CM: Andreas Pereira – 4/10 – Predictably forced into a more defensive role which doesn’t really work for him. City didn’t give him the chance to strut his stuff.
RW: Harry Wilson – 5/10 – Caused City a handful of problems when Fulham really started to get going. Hauled down by Dias just as he was threatening to get through.
ST: Raul Jimenez – 6/10 – Had to work incredibly hard but clearly enjoyed doing the ugly work. Battled for every ball to get his teammates involved and played a pivotal role in the equaliser.
LW: Bobby De Cordova-Reid – 5/10 – A mixed showing from the winger, who threatened early on but later struggled to get going.
SUB: Luke Harris (15′ for Cairney) – 5/10
SUB: Timothy Castagne (73′ for Tete) – 5/10
SUB: Willian (73′ for De Cordova-Reid) – 5/10
SUB: Rodrigo Muniz (80′ for Jimenez) – N/A
SUB: Adama Traore (80′ for Wilson) – N/A
Subs not used: Marek Rodak (GK), Calvin Bassey, Carlos Vinicius, Tyrese Francois
Marco Silva – 5/10 – Unfortunate. Fulham were competitive in the first half – even without Joao Palhinha – but were ultimately blown away after the offside controversy.