Substitute Erling Haaland scored a winner from the penalty spot to give Manchester City victory over 10-man Fulham and send the runners-up top of the table.
The significance of his 95th-minute strike was underlined moments later when Haaland hugged his coach Pep Guardiola in the closing stages and joined his team-mates in the lap of honour.
What looked set to be a frustrating and expensive evening in pursuit of City’s third title ended with a memorable victory thanks to Haaland’s 18th league goal in a dazzling start to his career at the Etihad Stadium.
Guardiola’s side looked to be going according to plan early on as they took the lead through Julian Alvarez’s powerful finish and pushed for more goals.
But the planned march to a seventh consecutive home win this season did not materialize. Instead, the game took an unexpected turn just before the half-hour mark when Joao Cancelo pulled out a muscle from Fulham striker Harry Wilson in the box.
Referee Darren England pointed to the spot and red carded Cancelo, much to the disbelief of Guardiola and his players, before Andreas Pereira sent Ederson the wrong way.
That was Fulham’s first effort and even then they rarely threatened, even with the extra man, instead of sitting deep and frustrating the hosts.
It looked like they would succeed early on, although Haaland came off the bench in the second half with two games injured.
Haaland thought he had sealed victory when he headed home a Kevin de Bruyne cross with 15 minutes remaining, but the home side’s celebrations were cut short when VAR showed he was offside.
City’s attacks became more and more ferocious towards the end and Haaland did not come close to finding the net until Antonee Robinson tripped De Bruyne in the box.
Haaland – who else? – stepped up to fire his penalty into the bottom corner and sparked wild celebrations from teammates, the coach and the stands.
Haaland came off the bench to save the day
City have won all seven of their home league games this season, but have never left it so late to claim victory.
Their frustration at the way this game was being run was fueled by Bernardo Silva’s half-time break in England, when the referee fouled Wilson for a foul, earning Silva a booking.
The clamor for Haaland’s introduction grew as the second half wore on, with City dominating possession but finding no way through Fulham’s massive defence.
Haaland and Phil Foden both entered the rescue mission in the 63rd minute, but it looked as if progress would be just as difficult.
Haaland’s first effort was an aerial shot as he missed Ilkay Gundogan’s flick completely and his second went a mile wide, although he was on hand to meet a John Stones cross off the post.
The goal looked like it would be part of the two points that fell in their favour, but City kept going and eventually got their reward late in the game.
More to follow.
- 7cancel itBooked in 26 minutes
- 17De Bruyne
- 8in Gundoganreplaced byRuben Diasin 90+7′minutes
- 20Bernard SilvaBooked in 45 minutes
- 19Alvarezreplaced byHaalandin 64′minutesBooked in 90 minutes
- 10Grealishreplaced bythe footin 64′minutes
- 3Ruben Dias
- 47the foot
- 2teatReserve in 63 minutes
- 13the oar
- 33RobinsonBooked in 90 minutes
- 6ReedBooked in 45 minutes
- 26João Palhinha
- 8Wilsonreplaced byJamesin 76′minutes
- 18PereiraBooked in 7 minutesreplaced byHarrisin 88′minutes
- 20Williamreplaced bymotherin 80′minutes
- 30Alves Moraisreplaced byCairneyin 76′minutes
- 3Snow storm
- 4In fact
Game over, Manchester City 2, Fulham 1.
Second half ends, Manchester City 2, Fulham 1.
Erling Haaland (Manchester City) wins a free kick.
Foul by Kenny Tete (Fulham).
Attempt blocked. Issa Diop (Fulham) header from the center of the box is blocked. Assisted by Tom Cairney with a cross.
Erling Haaland (Manchester City) is shown a yellow card for excessive celebration.
Change, Manchester City. Rúben Dias replaces Ilkay Gündogan.
Goal! Manchester City 2, Fulham 1. Erling Haaland (Manchester City) converts the penalty with a left footed shot.
Manchester City penalty. Kevin De Bruyne commits a foul in the box.
Antonee Robinson (Fulham) wins a penalty for a foul in the penalty area.
Antonee Robinson (Fulham) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Corner, Manchester City. Tim Ream scores a basket.
Attempt blocked. Erling Haaland (Manchester City) header from the center of the box is blocked. Assisted by Kevin De Bruyne with a cross.
Change, Fulham. Luke Harris replaces Andreas Pereira.
Manuel Akanji (Manchester City) is fouled.
Daniel James (Fulham) wins a free kick.
Attempt blocked. Erling Haaland (Manchester City) saves the shot from the right wing to the right. He was assisted by Kevin De Bruyne with the pass of the ball.
Change, Fulham. Kevin Mbabu replaces Willian.
Change, Fulham. Tom Cairney replaces Carlos Vinícius.
Change, Fulham. Daniel James replaces Harry Wilson due to injury.
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