Match Report

Haaland hat-trick helps City back to Premier League summit

Haaland hat-trick helps City back to Premier League summit
Premier League
Premier League
Sat 2 Sep
Julián Álvarez 

Nathan Ake 

Erling Haaland 
(58', 70', 95')

Tim Ream 
View highlights
An Erling Haaland hat-trick helped City move back to the Premier League summit and maintain our 100% start to the 2023/24 campaign with a 5-1 win over Fulham at the Etihad Stadium.

The Norwegian's seventh treble in sky blue rounded off a remarkable week for our number nine, whose first of the afternoon saw him become the quickest player to 40 Premier League goals.

Julian Alvarez had handed City the lead on the half hour, but the visitors replied almost instantly through Tim Ream.

But Nathan Ake headed home on the stroke of half-time to restore our advantage, despite heavy protests from the Fulham players and coaching staff who felt Manuel Akanji had interfered from an offside position.

After the break, though, Haaland took centre stage to see City into the international break in style.

What happened?

There was a carnival atmosphere at the Etihad Stadium ahead of kick-off as we marked Bahia becoming the 13th club to join CFG in May 2023 with a number of special celebrations on ‘O dia da Bahia’.

But that famous Brazilian attacking flair was at a premium in the opening exchanges, with both sides instead gradually getting the measure of each other at the Etihad Stadium.

It was an off-colour start for City, but an excellent first-time ball across the face of goal from Foden, which was inches from finding Haaland, showed that spark wasn’t too far away.

Foden, reintroduced to the side after a decisive late cameo against Sheffield United, jinked into the box again soon after following a quick one-two with Akanji, but the England international was crowded out at the decisive moment.

City were slowly starting to find our feet and the breakthrough would come when Haaland and Alvarez combined to devastating effect.

With Juanma Lillo’s side shifting the play out to the left, an incisive ball in behind from Mateo Kovacic found Haaland, who squared for Alvarez to tap home.

But the celebrations were short lived, with the visitors levelling in a matter of minutes.

A Fulham corner found Jimenez with too much space at the near post, and while Ederson was able to keep his volley out, he could do nothing to prevent Ream from tapping home on the rebound.

City hadn’t been at the races but had the ball in the net on the stroke of half-time when Ake headed home from a Foden corner.

The visitors were incensed at the decision, believing Akanji, who was in an offside position, had obstructed the view of Fulham stopper Leno, but their protests fell on deaf ears.

There were no complaints about City’s third though, with Alvarez and Haaland linking up once again to put some daylight between the sides before the hour.

Although there was a hint of fortune with the Argentine’s flick in behind ricocheting off Ream and into the path of Haaland, the Norwegian duly dispatched the chance with a clinical finish.

The attacking duo were causing havoc, with Haaland turning provider for Alvarez after coming short for the ball, but on this occasion, Issa Diop recovered to block the latter’s effort.

A fourth would follow for Juanma Lillo’s side though, with Alvarez brought down in the area under the attentions of Diop.

Haaland confidently stroked home, putting last week’s penalty miss behind him as City threatened to run away with it at the Etihad.

Fulham continued to look for an unlikely route back into the game, with Ederson making a smart reaction save to deny Raul Jimenez at his near post.

Another standout display from Foden saw him rightly given a standing ovation, with further cause for celebration as Oscar Bobb came on for his senior City debut in the process.

But the final act would be Haaland's who stroked home deep into stoppage time from Sergio Gomez's cutback to complete his treble and the scoring.

Haaland's latest milestone

Another game, another record for Erling Haaland.

His first goal against the Cottagers represented his 40th in the Premier League in what was just his 39th appearance in the competition.

He’s reached that tally quicker than any other player in Premier League history, surpassing Alan Shearer’s record by six matches in a week where he was also named PFA Player of the Year and UEFA Men’s Footballer of the Year.

But Haaland’s importance to City goes beyond the goals (despite him grabbing 42 in 39 Premier League matches), and his linkup with Julian Alvarez, with both assisting each other against the Cottagers, will have been a welcome sight for supporters.

He more than stood up to the physical challenge of Diop and Ream, while Alvarez’s typical energy and creativity from a deeper role kept Fulham guessing across the 90 minutes.

Home comforts

The Etihad Stadium has become a daunting prospect for any opponent over the past decade, and City currently boast a remarkable record on home soil.

Victory over Fulham represented our 12th at home in a row in the Premier League, a run which stretches all the way back to 31 December 2022.

Only between September 2017 and March 2018 has that tally been better, when City went 14-straight matches without dropping points at the Etihad.

It’s an outstanding record, and one that is sure to play an essential role in any success we hope to achieve across 2023/24.

Premier League
2 Liverpool FC Liverpool Liverpool 14 9 4 1 32 14 18 31 WDWDW
3 Manchester City Manchester City Man City 14 9 3 2 36 16 20 30 WWDDD
4 Aston Villa FC Aston Villa A Villa 14 9 2 3 33 20 13 29 WLWWD
Last updated: 4 December 2023

How we lined up

Juanma Lillo made three changes from the side who beat Sheffield United on Sunday, with Josko Gvardiol, Bernardo Silva and Jack Grealish making way for Manuel Akanji, Phil Foden and, for his City debut, Jeremy Doku.

Ederson started between the sticks, shielded by a back four of Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias, Akanji and Nathan Ake.

Rodrigo started at the base of midfield, with Mateo Kovacic given licence to get forward and support the attack.

At the sharp end, Doku and Foden started out wide, with Julian Alvarez offering support to Erling Haaland through the centre.

City XI: Ederson, Walker (C), Dias, Akanji, Ake, Rodrigo (Bernardo 76’), Kovacic (Phillips 84’), Foden (Bobb 90'), Doku (Gomez 76’), Alvarez (Lewis 90'), Haaland.

Subs: Ortega Moreno, Carson, Gvardiol, Nunes.

Fulham XI: Leno, Tete (Castagne 72’), Diop, Ream, Robinson, Reed, Cairney (C) (Harris 15’), Wilson (Adama 81’), Pereira, De Cordova-Reid (Willian 73’), Jimenz (Muniz 81’)

Subs: Rodak, Bassey, Francois, Vinicius.

What it means

City move back to the top of the Premier League table with victory, with four wins from as many matches so far in 2023/24.

We are the only side who maintain a 100% record in the English top flight this season, and round off for the international break two points clear of second-placed West Ham United.

Up next

It’s a top-of-the-table battle on City’s return from the international break, travelling to London to face West Ham United.

Kick-off is set for 15:00 (UK) on Saturday 16 September.

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