Erling Haaland snatched a late winner from the penalty spot as Manchester City jumped above Arsenal to go top of the Premier League.
Erling Haaland saved the day for Manchester City and spared Joao Cancelo’s blushes as the striker’s last-gasp penalty secured a 2-1 win over Fulham in the Premier League.
Cancelo left City following an embarrassing red card which came shortly after Julian Alvarez had given the Etihad Stadium hosts a deserved early lead.
City were chasing a 13th successive win against Fulham in all competitions but their hopes were dashed soon after the opener when Cancelo was sent off for a bad tackle on Harry Wilson, giving Fulham a free-kick which Andreas Pereira tucked away.
Fulham were moments away from a point but then Kevin De Bruyne was tripped by Antone Robinson and the second penalty of the game was awarded. Substitute Haaland’s kick in the fifth minute of stoppage time was almost saved by Bernd Leno, but the ball curled under the keeper to send City above Arsenal at the top of the table.
Alvarez headed wide from a decent chance in the third minute after De Bruyne’s delicious cross. De Bruyne then had a typically searing 20-yard drive that Bernd Leno tipped over the bar before Fulham went ahead.
The Cards looked like they were mauling and Alvarez hit the opener off the underside of the bar in the 17th minute after Ilkay Gundogan’s pass calmed him down.
John Stones was disallowed for a tap-in for offside, but the game changed in the 25th minute when Cancelo was red-carded for an absurdly lazy tackle in the penalty area on Wilson, with Pereira slotting past Ederson.
Ten-man City remained dominant, yet half chances came and went before Pep Guardiola called on Haaland and Phil Foden from the bench in the 64th minute.
Haaland shot wide from a difficult opportunity, but then his moment seemed to come in the 74th minute when De Bruyne’s cross from the left was beautiful and the striker’s close-range header downright deadly.
Nevertheless, the substitute was marginally offside, the VAR verdict saved Fulham. Just when they looked set to hang on to a valuable point, a foul on De Bruyne and a cool head from Haaland tipped the game back to City.
Man City vs Fulham player ratings – Premier League
1. Man City (4-3-3)
GK: Ederson – 5/10 – Perhaps could have given Cancelo a shout to avoid the last-ditch intervention given his proximity to the red-card challenge.
RB: John Stones – 4/10 – Had a goal ruled out 53 seconds before Cancelo was sent off. Tucked into midfield for much of the contest.
CB: Manuel Akanji – 5/10 – Keen to punch a pass between the lines but was liable to wander off the ball.
CB: Nathan Ake – 3/10 – Cancelo was forced to try and cover for Ake’s initial mistake when he came out second best in a 50-50 with Palhinha.
LB: Joao Cancelo – 2/10 – Perplexed by his dismissal but Cancelo’s attempt at a shoulder-to-shoulder connected with the space between Wilson’s shoulder blades.
CM: Kevin De Bruyne – 7/10 – In perpetual motion, surging around the pitch in a perennial pocket of space.
CM: Rodri – 8/10 – After the red card, Rodri’s importance ballooned as he was tasked with slipping between midfield and defence as City took risked getting exposed in transition.
CM: Ilkay Gundogan – 6/10 – Scurrying around midfield with penetrative runs on and off the ball.
RW: Bernardo Silva – 5/10 – Got increasingly frustrated with the officiating which distracted from his game.
ST: Julian Alvarez – 7/10 – Took his goal superbly, causing Fulham’s backline a nagging problem by repeatedly darting in behind. Unlikely to make way for Haaland.
LW: Jack Grealish – 4/10 – Attracted players towards him when he carried the ball but didn’t deliver any end product himself.
SUB: Phil Foden (64′ for Grealish) – 4/10 – Largely ineffective after his introduction.
SUB: Erling Haaland (64′ for Alvarez) – 7/10 – Unusually mistimed his run but just about squeezed in the match-winner.
SUB: Ruben Dias (90+6′ for Gundogan) – N/A
Manager: Pep Guardiola – 5/10 – He may have had Mitrovic in mind, but Guardiola had warned his side pre-game about the danger of “second balls” against Fulham. Ake’s failure to deal with one led to Cancelo’s dismissal. Got away with one here.
2. Fulham (4-2-3-1)
GK: Bernd Leno – 4/10 – Made a flurry of stops before seemingly ducking underneath Alvarez’s powerful effort. Should have done much better with Haaland’s spot kick.
RB: Kenny Tete – 6/10 – Kept Grealish at arm’s length for much of the contest.
CB: Issa Diop – 6/10 – Despite the fierce counter-press City engaged in – before and after the red card – Diop was confident on the ball.
CB: Tim Ream – 4/10 – Couldn’t shift his feet quickly enough while back-pedalling in vain up against Alvarez.
LB: Antonee Robinson – 5/10 – Undid an assured performance with a late misjudgment.
CM: Harrison Reed – 5/10 – Buzzing around his fellow fair-haired midfielder De Bruyne, trying to unsettle the imperious Belgian.
CM: Joao Palhinha – 6/10 – Played a crucial role in Fulham’s equaliser in a characteristic burst of ball-winning.
AM: Andreas Pereira – 5/10 – The former Manchester United midfielder cooly converted his spot-kick but wasn’t heavily involved in open play.
RW: Harry Wilson – 6/10 – Cleverly positioned his body between Cancelo and the ball, creating the circumstances for the penalty.
ST: Vinicius – 4/10 – In the absence of Mitrovic, Vinicius threw his weight around the top of the pitch but couldn’t settle the fury once in possession.
LW: Willian – 5/10 – Dangerous when he sporadically scuttled onto the ball and was diligent defensively.
SUB: Tom Cairney (76′ for Vinicius) – 5/10
SUB: Daniel James (76′ for Wilson) – N/A
SUB: Kevin Mbabu (80′ for Willian) – N/A
SUB: Luke Harris (88′ for Pereira) – N/A
Manager: Marco Silva – 4/10 – Approached the opening half-hour bravely but seemed to sit back against ten men more than the initial XI and was ultimately made to pay.