Man City player ratings gallery: One player scores 10/10 and one 4/10 in 2-1 win vs Fulham
Erling Haaland’s injury-time penalty saved the day for Manchester City.
Joao Cancelo’s red card midway through the first half made what had been a comfortbale afternoon turn into a frustrating one for City. Andreas Pereira converted the penalty following Cancelo’s dismissal, while Julian Alvarez had netted the opener for City prior to that.
It was a lively first half and City had decent chances from Alvarez, Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan in the early stages. but it took until the 16th minute for the Blues to take the lead. Gundogan slipped a perfectly timed pass into the path of Alvarez and the striker fired a powerful shot beyond Bernd Leno, who perhaps could have dealt better with the shot.
Ten minutes later, City thought they’d grabbed a second when Rodri’s shot was saved by Leno and Stones tapped in the rebound. But both players were flagged offside, and 60 seconds later the game was turned on its head. The visitors launched a quick counter attack that culminated in Cancelo barging into the back of Harry Wilson inside the box.
Referee Darren England judged it to be a foul and a red card, and VAR saw no reason to overturn what seemed to be a harsh decision, one Pep Guardiola certainly didn’t agree with. Pereira stood up, sent Ederson the wrong way and powered his shot into the bottom corner - a moment the former Manchester United man seemed to enjoy.
From there, City’s dominance dropped and at one stage there were even chants of ‘Ole’ from the away fans to acknowledge Fulham’s passing sequence. But the hosts ended an action-packed opening 45 minutes with Jack Grealish having two great chances saved, before Leno superbly kept out a Manuel Akanji header from point-blank range.
City dominated possession in the second period but found it difficult to break down the opposition. De Bruyne tried to score from a disguised free-kick, but the Blues’ scoring opportunities were limited.
Haaland came on after 64 minutes and did manage to score, although for the second time that afternoon City saw a goal ruled out for offside. Haaland was correctly deemed to have strayed beyond the last man after a VAR check, although he took the header well from an excellent De Bruyne cross.
It was the Belgian who was tripped in the dying embers of the game to earn City a penalty. De Bruyne was clipped on the back of the heel by Antonee Robinson and went to ground a tad easily, resulting in the hosts earning a spot-kick. Haaland took it and, despite Leno getting a hand to the ball, he once again scored to hand City all three points.
Here’s how we rated the players.