Manchester City moved up to fourth in the Premier League table after the blues beat Fulham 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium. Goals from Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne gave the blues victory, but it could have been so much more if not for an inspired display from the visiting keeper, desperate Fulham defending and some woeful City finishing.
The blues went into the match six points behind leaders Spurs and, although they still have a game in hand, it was vital that City secured three points against the struggling newcomers to keep the pace at the top of the table.
Fulham manager Scott Parker could have been forgiven for setting up his team defensively, given the way City took Burnley apart last weekend, and the Fulham boss would no doubt have wanted to ensure that his team did not suffer the same fate, although they did spend much of the match thwarting City attacks.
It was a plan that almost fell apart within three minutes. The Fulham defence hesitated and Jesus nipped in and put Sterling through on the left of the penalty area, but the winger tried to beat the keeper with the outside of his right foot and the keeper was equal to it.
But there was no mistake 90 seconds later as Sterling opened the scoring. Kevin de Bruyne charged forward through the midfield and released the England man on the right and this time, Sterling made no mistake, firing across the keeper into the corner of the goal.
Sterling was denied again by the keeper and John Stones had a bit of a hair-raising moment in a rare lapse for the defender. A long ball forward was covered by Stones, but keeper Ederson raced from his line only for Stones to knock the ball past him, leaving the Brazilian to quickly backtrack, but the ball went thankfully wide for a corner.
City went 2-0 up on 25 minutes when Sterling produced some trickery in the box, but was brought down by Joachim Anderson. The contact was light, but the referee instantly pointed to the spot and the decision was soon confirmed by VAR. De Bruyne assumed responsibility and sent the keeper the wrong way.
The blues continued to dominate the first half, but couldn’t convert their superior possession into more goals as they went it 2-0 up at the break.
City had been in this position before. In April 2008, Fulham came back from a 2-0 half-time deficit to win 3-2, and the way Fulham started the second half will have caused a bit of consternation amongst the faithful. The visitors attacked the blues but without making much progress towards goal, and would often leave themselves open for the counter attack, which City used repeatedly.
Time and again, the blues raided down the right, with Riyad Mahrez and Joao Cancelo providing overlapping runs, but each cross that came in was met by a Fulham defender. And when the ever impressive de Bruyne managed to find a little space, he was then denied by the bar.
The Belgian was denied again when clean through, only to see his shot parried away by the keeper as the Fulham goal led a charmed life. City continued to dominate the match, but credit needs to be given to Fulham, who gave the blues a bit of a game, despite only registering one shot on goal.
The blues saw out the game with no further goals, but the win saw them climb the table as their early season inconsistencies fade.
Final Score: Man City 2-0 Fulham