Looking to extend their 100% winning start to the 2023/24 Premier League season, Manchester City welcomed Fulham to the Etihad Stadium. With Pep Guardiola still recovering from his emergency surgery, Juanma Lillo would take charge of the hosts once more.
MCI: Ederson; Aké, Akanji, Dias, Walker; Kovačić, Rodri; Foden, Álvarez, Doku; Haaland
FUL: Leno; Robinson, Ream, Diop, Tete; Cairney, Reed, Pereira; Decordova-Reid, Jiménez, Wilson
Having picked up two awards in midweek, Erling Haaland was quick to strengthen his case for the upcoming Ballon d’Or as he teed up Julián Álvarez with just over half an hour played in Manchester. Mateo Kovačić’s through ball for the Norwegian was sublime, with Haaland opting to square for his Argentine colleague who simply had to tap past Bernd Leno.
But Fulham were quick to restore parity, with Tim Ream slamming home the rebound after a poorly-cleared corner. Andreas Pereira’s delivery was met well by Raul Jiménez, though the Mexican’s effort was palmed away by Ederson – but only as far as Ream, who made no mistake from close range.
It was through another corner that Manchester City reclaimed the lead, deep inside first-half stoppage time. Phil Foden’s whipped ball into the box was delivered straight onto the head of Nathan Aké, who nodded his effort towards the near post – and after a VAR check, the controversial goal was allowed to stand despite the offside Manuel Akanji seemingly obstructing Bernd Leno.
Just before the hour mark, Erling Haaland worked his way onto the scoresheet with Fulham seemingly unable to get close to the hosts. Rodri’s pass through for Julián Álvarez allowed the forward to dash towards goal, but a deflection from Tim Ream sent the ball perfectly into the Norwegian’s path – and he slotted a simple finish past the goalkeeper.
Erling Haaland was able to double his tally just ten minutes later, with City granted a golden opportunity from the penalty spot after Julián Álvarez was shoved to the ground by Issa Diop. Having missed a spot-kick last week, he made no mistake this time – thumping a thunderous strike into the left side of the net.
And five minutes into stoppage time, the forward completed a heroic hat-trick performance. Sergio Gómez danced past Timothy Castagne on the left flank, pulling the ball back from the byline to allow Erling Haaland a first-time effort that he buried expertly into the bottom corner to claim the match ball.
Manchester City will travel to West Ham United after the international break, while Fulham prepare to welcome Luton Town to Craven Cottage. Both matches kick off at 15:00 on Saturday, 16 September.