Manchester City’s march towards a third Premier League title in four seasons continued as Pep Guardiola’s men moved 17 points clear at the summit with a 3-0 victory at battling Fulham.
The Citizens needed to be patient at first as they struggled to create much in the opening 45 minutes despite dominating for long spells.
However, they exploded into life within two minutes of the restart when John Stones broke the deadlock with a close-range finish.
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Guardiola had made seven changes from the team that thumped Southampton with Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus both starting in attack, and the duo duly responded by getting in on the goal act.
Jesus took advantage of a horrible defensive mix-up to round Alphonse Areola and gleefully double the advantage before Aguero converted from the spot on the hour. Incredibly, it was the Argentine’s first Premier League goal since January 2020 following a wretched run with injuries.
Fulham will rue a sloppy second period where they contributed heavily to their own downfall with some basic defensive errors. Scott Parker’s men remain in the drop zone on goal difference but have played two games more than 17th-placed Brighton.
City will now turn their attention to Tuesday’s Champions League last 16, second leg against Borussia Monchengladbach before visiting Everton in the FA Cup quarter finals on Saturday. Fulham’s fight to secure top-flight safety continues when they host Leeds in the Premier League on Friday evening.
No stopping the City juggernaut. After a frustrating first half, City roared clear and easily clocked up a 23rd win from their last 24 matches in all competitions. They have quite simply made a mockery of the predictions that this was going to be the most open title race in years. Guardiola’s men need 14 points from their last eight games to guarantee that they will end the season as champions and it’s just a case of when and where they confirm it now.
This was a record-extending 13th straight away triumph in all competitions and included the real bonus of seeing the fit-again Aguero get back on the goal trail in the English top-flight. Talk of the quadruple will only intensify as they notch up win after win and they certainly look to have the strong backbone to deal with any adversity that may crop up in the other competitions they have designs on. It’ll take some doing, but City have real momentum at just the right time in the season.
As for Fulham, their Premier League fate was never going to rest on this result. The Cottagers can take plenty of positives from their first-half showing but need to solve their poor home form and lack of goals at Craven Cottage if they are to avoid the drop.
MAN OF THE MATCH
John Stones (Man City). The defender is enjoying a supreme 2021 so far. He looks so assured alongside Ruben Dias and is developing a healthy knack for chipping in with some goals. Struck the crucial opener here and never looked in trouble at the back.
FULHAM: Areola 7, Tete 6, Andersen 6, Adarabioyo 6, Aina 6, Lemina 6, Reed 6, Anguissa 6, Loftus-Cheek 6, Cavaleiro 6, Lookman 6. Subs: Mitrovic 6, Onomah 6, Robinson n/a.
MAN CITY: Ederson 6, Cancelo 8, Stones 8, Dias 7, Laporte 7, Mendy 6, Rodri 7, Bernardo 8, Torres 7, Jesus 7, Aguero 7. Subs: Fernandinho 6, Garcia 6.
47’ - GOAL! – Fulham 0-1 Man City. Stones breaks the deadlock with a simple finish from Cancelo’s left-wing free kick. Fulham were completely caught out there.
56’ - GOAL! – Fulham 0-2 Man City. Jesus pounces upon a horrific error at the back from Fulham, rounds Areola and thumps his shot beyond the man on the line.
60’ - GOAL! – Fulham 0-3 Man City. Aguero makes no mistake with a clinical strike from the spot that convincingly beats the dive of Areola. The penalty was awarded after Tosin got himself into a muddle and fouled Torres.
84’ – FULHAM CHANCE! Mitrovic turns brilliantly, showing strength and guile to tease a pass into the run of Onomah. The Fulham substitute thinks he's about to pull a goal back, but a brilliant last-ditch block diverts his shot just wide of Ederson's right-hand post.
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Having scored just one goal in his first 170 Premier League appearances, John Stones has since netted four in his last 10 games in the competition.
Manchester City have won their last seven meetings with Fulham in all competitions by an aggregate score of 21-0. This is now their joint-longest ever run of wins against a single opponent without conceding a goal (also 7 v Wigan between 2010-2013).
In the 13 Premier League games in which both Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus have started together, they have scored a combined 24 goals (9 for Jesus, 15 for Agüero).
Agüero ended a run of 13 appearances, 641 minutes of play and 24 shots without scoring in the Premier League, with his penalty against Fulham his first league goal since January 2020 v Sheff Utd, 417 days ago.
Jesus has been directly involved in 95 goals in his 114 starts in all competitions for Manchester City (73 goals, 22 assists), scoring eight and assisting one more in his last 10 starts.
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