First-half goals from Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero earned Manchester City a 2-0 win over Fulham that moved Pep Guardiola’s men back to the top of the Premier League ahead of Liverpool’s clash with Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday afternoon (Monday morning AEDT).
Cottagers caretaker boss Scott Parker saw his side make early mistakes that were punished by City’s clinical forwards, who all but condemned the West London outfit to an eighth consecutive Premier League defeat within the opening half-hour.
Bernardo Silva never let Fulham rest and he followed up his crisply-struck goal on five minutes with an assist for Aguero, who scored his fourth goal in five top flight starts against Fulham after 27 minutes.
Parker sent out a more resilient Fulham side after the interval but City, with Kevin De Bruyne restored to their midfield after he recovered from a hamstring injury, remained dominant to move a point ahead of Liverpool at the summit.
City had Fulham pinned in their own penalty area from the off and pounced on the hosts' first error, De Bruyne intercepting Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s sloppy pass before Aguero teed up Bernardo Silva for a raking drive into the far corner of Sergio Rico’s net.
The next error came from Joe Bryan, who gifted possession to Bernardo Silva and the ball was quickly fed to Aguero, who darted between two defenders before glancing a side-footed finish across Rico and into the top corner.
Aguero was replaced by Gabriel Jesus after 56 minutes as City pressed for a third, with Raheem Sterling having a shot clawed away by Rico before Bernardo Silva narrowly missed out on the rebound.
Kyle Walker almost made the scoreline a fairer reflection of the play when Sterling teed him up for a rasping shot onto the outside of the post with 11 minutes left, but City did not need a third goal on an afternoon when they were by far the better side.
What does it mean? A gulf in class
City’s seventh successive victory in the Premier League condemned Fulham to their eighth straight league defeat. It seems unlikely these two sides will meet again for some time.
De Bruyne returns to fitness and form
As well as supporting City’s incessant early attacks, De Bruyne provided the steel and presence in midfield that prevented Fulham from getting a foothold in the game.
Two errors, two goals
Had Fosu-Mensah and Bryan not fluffed their lines, City would likely still have won this game, but the Cottagers pair made life all too easy for Aguero and Bernardo Silva early on.
Key Opta stats:
- Fulham have lost each of their last seven top-flight meetings with Manchester City, only once before have they suffered more consecutive top-flight defeats against a single opponent (eight v Manchester United between 2005 and 2009).
- Manchester City have lost on just one of their last 10 Premier League visits to London, winning eight and drawing one.
- Fulham have conceded at least twice in each of their last 12 Premier League games, the longest such sequence in the top-flight since a run of 14 by Newcastle United between May-October 1977.
- Manchester City are the first side to face no shots on target in two consecutive away Premier League games (v Bournemouth and Fulham) since the Citizens themselves in November 2017 (v Leicester City and Huddersfield Town).
- Fulham failed to direct a single shot on target for the first time in their last 188 home league games, since April 2010 against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League.
- Scott Parker is the first Fulham manager to lose his first four games in charge in the Premier League.
Fulham make the short journey to Vicarage Road to face Watford on Tuesday evening (Wednesday morning AEDT), while City host another relegation-threatened side in Cardiff City at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday evening (Thursday morning AEDT).