Fulham 1, Manchester City 2
Julian Alvarez scored a screamer as Manchester City returned to the top of the Premier League with a comfortable win at Fulham.Embed from Getty Images
The Argentine forward scored the winner after Carlos Vinicius had levelled matters following an early Erling Haaland penalty – a landmark 50th of the season for the deadly City striker.
The Blues still have a game in hand over title rivals Arsenal who will have a chance to retake the lead and they play next on Tuesday against Chelsea.
And at Craven Cottage Bernardo Silva was rested on the bench while Kevin De Bruyne, nursing a ‘minor injury’ did not travel.
Replacing them were Riyad Mahrez and Julian Alvarez as City sought to go top for the first time since February 17.
City won a penalty within the first two minutes after Jack Grealish’s cross into the box was pulled back towards Julian Alvarez by Riyad Mahrez.
Alvarez was fouled by Tim Ream – a clear penalty – and Haaland did the rest from the penalty spot.
Bernd Leno guessed correctly but could not reach the ball which has been hammered inside the right hand side netting by the Norwegian who celebrated his 50th goal in all competitions this term.
No player since 1931 has matched that feat and only former Everton striker Dixie Dean’s 63 in all competitions looks attainable given that Haaland has potentially a further 10 games to score the goals he needs to go down in English football history.
It was also the 34th goal scored in the Premier League for City’s star striker – level with Alan Shearer and Andy Cole’s record set during the days of a 42 game season, and Haaland has another 6 games in which to set his own record.
But things didn’t go entirely City’s way as Carlos Vinicius left Ruben Dias on his backside and levelled matters with a rasping drive after Andreas Pereira had flicked on a long ball forward from Harry Wilson after 15 minutes thanks to a lucky deflection.
It was a rare bump in what had been billed as yet another procession towards the title for a City side who were hitting top form.
But City were in no mood for slipping up, Jack Grealish had already had a shot saved by Leno but also saw another attempt tipped on to the bar by the German.
And when Rodri and Mahrez combined to release Alvarez, the Argentine moved the ball quickly under foot and curled a 25 yard screamer into the top corner after 36 minutes.
City tried to extend their lead – Leno denied Ilkay Gundogan, Haaland, and Alvarez, while Ederson had to get to the ball before Vinicius and Bobby Decordoba-Reid briefly threatened a second equaliser only to shoot wide.