Thursday, May 23, 2024

Fulham 0-4 Manchester City: Gvardiol double helps to send champions top

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 11 May 2024

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Manchester City moved ahead of Arsenal at the top of the Premier League table with a dominant 4-0 win over Fulham, with Josko Gvardiol scoring twice at Craven Cottage.

Pep Guardiola’s champions knew a victory in Saturday’s early kick-off would pile the pressure on Arsenal ahead of their trip to Manchester United on Sunday, and they made no mistake.

Gvardiol scored in both halves to make it five goals in his last seven games across all competitions, while Player of the Season candidate Phil Foden netted his 25th of the campaign as City ate into Arsenal’s superior goal difference.

Julian Alvarez then added a late fourth from the penalty spot after Issa Diop received his second yellow card, and City know two further victories over Tottenham and West Ham next week will secure the title.

Fulham, meanwhile, stay 13th with 44 points, their winless run stretching to four matches.

The hosts’ energetic start quickly fell flat when City struck from their first real attack 13 minutes in, Gvardiol driving inside from the left to exchange passes with Kevin De Bruyne before skipping past Issa Diop and stroking his finish into the bottom-left corner.

Marco Silva cut an animated figure as City smothered their hosts from then on, with Foden testing Bernd Leno from range.

The champions should have had a second on the stroke of half-time as De Bruyne’s wonderful cross found Manuel Akanji totally unmarked at the far post. However, rather using his head, the centre-back sent an awkward volley spinning over the crossbar.

Fulham very briefly improved after introducing Adama Traore at the break, but they were hit with a sucker punch just before the hour as Joao Palhinha’s tackle on Bernardo Silva sent the ball straight to Foden, who drilled home on his weaker right foot.

Erling Haaland completely miscued his shot when played through by De Bruyne shortly afterwards, but City had their third with 19 minutes to play.

Silva curled a cross to the far post, where Gvardiol stretched to prod his shot under Leno, who then made a strong save to keep out Jeremy Doku’s long-range strike.

However, Fulham did concede a fourth deep into stoppage time, with Diop’s reckless lunge on Alvarez earning him his second caution and allowing the Argentine to tuck home from 12 yards.

De Bruyne climbs assist charts

Much of Gvardiol’s opener was his own work, the defender showing great composure to beat Leno after motoring infield from the touchline, but he was helped on his way by a fine one-touch pass from De Bruyne – the 19th of a flowing move.

That was the Belgian’s 111th assist in the Premier League, taking him level with Cesc Fabregas in second place in the all-time rankings. Only United great Ryan Giggs, with 162, has more in the competition’s history.

De Bruyne has also contributed to at least one goal in each of his last five away games in the competition, netting three and teeing up five in that time.

If he can maintain his fine form over the next eight days, City’s chances of winning an unprecedented fourth straight title will be greatly enhanced.

Toothless Fulham seeing season fizzle out

Fulham boss Silva was not a happy man at half-time, hooking both Willian and Bobby De Cordova-Reid after seeing his side fail to record a shot of any description in the opening period.

Though the introduction of Traore added more impetus to their flat frontline, they never truly looked like threatening City as they tallied a measly 0.12 expected goals (xG) throughout the contest.

While Silva denied suggestions his team were “on the beach” on Friday, they have certainly tailed off in recent weeks, their hopes of a top-half finish evaporating due to a run of one win in eight games (three draws, four defeats).

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