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Match Report: ~ Fulham beaten at Man City ~ Prem MD 04 ~ 23/24

last updated Wednesday 21st February 2024, 9:58 AM

Match Report

Manchester City (2) 5-1 (1) Fulham

Premier League Match Day 04 22_23 at Etihad Stadium

Saturday 2nd September 2023,    KO: 15:00

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)

Fulham defender Tim Ream
Fulham defender
Tim Ream
Tim Ream
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Manchester City breezed past Fulham 5-1 to go top of the Premier League table at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon, but needed a controversial first-half VAR decision to help them on their way.

Julian Alvarez opened the scoring on the half-hour mark, before Tim Ream found immediate reply at the opposite end, tapping into an empty net after Ederson had kept out an effort from Raul Jimenez.

The goals were scored a mere two minutes apart, breathing life into an otherwise colourless contest, which was characterised by sloppy play, errors in possession and tactical fouls.

Controversy followed, though, as Nathan Ake converted Phil Foden's corner with a clever header in first-half stoppage time. Manuel Akanji, standing in an offside position, dummied the ball on its way through, meaning Bernd Leno's view was obstructed as he tried and failed to stop the effort crossing the line.

VAR looked at the incident, but declined to intervene, with Fulham boss Marco Silva incensed on the touchline at the perceived injustice. "He must have put the goalkeeper off, he must be interfering with the goalkeeper," said former referee Mike Dean on Soccer Saturday, having had the benefit of several replays. "That should be disallowed," Michael Dawson concurred. VAR disagreed.

The task was simple from then on, with the visitors unable to recover their composure, just at the moment Erling Haaland unearthed his. The Norwegian proceeded to find the net three times thereafter, his seventh hat-trick since joining City just over a year ago.

City maintained their perfect start, but that didn't tell the whole story on a day where the scoreline served to flatter the treble winners, and Haaland's hat-trick masked over a performance far from City's free-flowing best.

It was a disputed VAR decision that turned the game in the hosts' favour just before half-time, when Ake's header was allowed to stand to make it 2-1.

Video assistant referee, Tony Harrington, ruled that Akanji did not interfere with play from an offside position even though he was in goalkeeper Leno's line of sight when he jumped over the ball.

Silva raged on the touchline at the decision, but had to keep his emotions in check having already received three yellow cards this season, and served a one-match touchline ban as a result. Fulham's players were equally inflamed on the pitch, protesting long and hard, even after the VAR decision had concluded. But the goal stood.

The stormy end to the first half appeared to take its toll on Fulham as City moved through the gears in the second period.

Haaland was the one to end any further resistance, becoming the fastest player in top-flight history to reach 50 goal involvements, with 42 goals and nine assists in just 39 Premier League appearances.

He made it 3-1 just before the hour with a clinical low finish after Alvarez slipped him through, before a clumsy challenge on Alvarez from Issa Diop gifted the Norwegian the chance to convert from the penalty spot - atoning for last week's missed spot-kick against Sheffield United.

Haaland then completed his treble in injury time, sweeping home substitute Sergio Gomez' well-placed low cross.

Fulham manager Marco Silva:
"A huge, huge mistake from the linesman, but even more from the VAR. How is it possible not to disallow that goal?

"Everyone who plays football or played football or understands football is 100 per cent sure it is offside.

"For me, it is difficult to understand how the VAR cannot disallow the goal. The player was in a clear offside position."

Fulham return to action at home to Luton on on Saturday September 16. Kick-off 3pm.

Manchester City : Ederson, Walker, Dias, Akanji, Ake, Rodri (Silva 76), Kovacic (Phillips 84), Doku (Gomez 76), Álvarez (Lewis 90), Foden (Bobb 90), Haaland

Unused substitutes: Ortega, Gvardiol, Nunes, Carson

Alvarez 31 (Haaland nips in behind Fulham for the first time this afternoon, and slips a delicious pass through the legs of Diop. Alvarez is there to apply the perfect first-time finish - couldn't miss really. It was on a plate. Sweeping City move and the champions lead. VAR did check for a possible offside, but quickly confirms Haaland was level, and the goal stands. FPL Assist: Haaland)
Ake 45+4 (Ake wheels away in celebration, it's his pinpoint header from Foden's corner that has snuck inside the post. But Akanji, who is standing in an offside position, has perhaps interfered with play. He's certainly in Leno's eye-line. VAR are checking, amid Fulham protests... but Michael Oliver points to the centre circle! GOAL STANDS! Marco Silva is furious, because Akanji did dummy the ball, and that surely impacts Leno's movement? A controversial moment here at the Etihad! Mike Dean on Soccer Saturday:"He's jumped over the ball, it's gone between his legs. It must have put the goalkeeper off. In my opinion, he's a good half a yard offside. He jumps over the ball so he can't not be interfering with the goalkeeper.")
Haaland 58 (He's hardly had a sniff. Barely been in the game at all. But Haaland is so composed, so clinical, and finishes with aplomb! The break of the ball falls his way, from Alvarez via Ream, and he takes a touch before lashing beyond Leno. So emphatic.)
Haaland pen 69 (That's an easy decision for Michael Oliver, as Diop barges into Alvarez. He completely knocks him off his stride, as he snuck in behind. The ball is handed to Haaland, for his chance to net a second of the afternoon. )
Haaland 90+5 (This guy is a freak of nature. He's not even played that well... But he's scored a hat-trick!! Haaland drills Gomez' low cutback emphatically past a helpless Leno. Wonderful finality on the strike. That's his seventh Manchester City hat-trick. He's only been in England 12 months or so. It's frightening!)

Booked: Rodri (40,f), Silva(78,f),

Fulham : Leno, Tete (Castagne 73), Diop, Ream, Robinson, Pereira, Reed, Cairney (Harris 16), Wilson (Traore 81), Jimenez (Muniz 81), De Cordova-Reid (Willian 73)

Unused substitutes: Rodak, Bassey, Vinicius, Francois

Ream 33 (Jimenez connects with a corner, sending it goalward, before Reid helps it on. Ederson actually spills it, or rather, attempts to save the shot but can only parry it to Ream, who thumps into an empty net. The defender won't get any easier finish than that! Fulham are somehow level, less than two minutes after the opener.)

Booked: Diop (43,f), Robinson (45,f), De Cordova-Reid (54,d), Pereira (69,d),

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)

Attendance: 52,899

Source Laura Hunter at Sky Sports
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