Thursday, December 2

Manchester City beat Fulham with Sterling and De Bruyne shining | Football


Manchester City were in exhibition mode, winning this tenth outing of the Premier League season with ease. Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez particularly shone in an excellent team display, their play sometimes sublime and too good for Fulham. Pep Guardiola’s team are in admirable shape heading into next weekend’s visit to Manchester United for the derby.

John Stones was held back by Guardiola, meaning there is no room again for Aymeric Laporte, Phil Foden was also lost and thus extended his spell out of league XI to six weeks, while Kyle Walker was fully rested. Fulham came in with their confidence bolstered by beating Leicester last time out, although they were still one spot above the drop zone.

City soon went ahead, although it could have come even before the fifth minute, Mahrez put Sterling in only to have his shot come too close to Alphonse Areola saving his team. Seconds later, the Cottagers fell behind. Jonathan Moss denied a City handball appeal to continue play and they were able to thank the referee as De Bruyne picked up and passed possession to Sterling. This time the shot was faithful, to the right of Areola.

The visitors responded by winning a corner to their right but Harrison Reed’s delivery did not yield anything. City’s high-speed passing game was evident when Benjamin Mendy threw the ball to Mahrez, who instantly passed De Bruyne and his first effort was stopped at close angle by Areola.

Parker had his team trying to push from the front, where Ruben Loftus-Cheek, the most advanced midfielder, joined Ademola Lookman and Ivan Cavaleiro, the two forwards from Fulham. The problem here was obvious: City are so adept at moving the ball that they could, and did, attack at will.

Rodri, Ilkay Gündogan, João Cancelo and Mahrez chained a series of passes together that ended with a corner. None of that came out, but De Bruyne then slipped Mendy in and his delivery rocket was repelled for a throw-in. However, the city was not going to refuse for long.

Cancelo’s pass found Gabriel Jesús, who sent the ball to the corner of the right side. The Portuguese headed for the goal and threw a firm pass to the effervescent Sterling. Fred Astaire’s act of No. 7 made Joachim Andersen jump in and leave the man from England; Moss conceded a penalty and De Bruyne buried it.

Fulham was overwhelmed, but City’s control was about to be loosened by the kind of calamity they defended that brought Stones down earlier. As he was about to pass back to Ederson, the center-back beat the advancing goalkeeper and was about to roll the ball into the empty goal, Stones couldn’t look to confirm where the Brazilian was.

Guardiola kicked in anger and Stones wore a haunted expression. Still, City soon reached the other extreme, with a delicious Mahrez chip on Sterling’s foot; his volley required a flying save from Areola.

The half ended with one more attempt from Sterling, which bounced off a corner.

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Fulham faced a long 45 minutes. After a brief foray in which yellow jerseys flooded half the City, they soon returned for their own goal, barely escaping a Mahrez cross addressed to Jesus. Next, the west side of London was bewitched by De Bruyne’s ability to slide into possession, the Belgian did so and then released Jesus, who hit the ball to number 17 – his left foot strike bounced off the bar .

The city was rampant. De Bruyne fired hard with his left foot again, though again Areola rose to the challenge. Then Rúben Dias went over a De Bruyne corner as City reached the final stages still looking for a third. They couldn’t find one but Guardiola may be delighted with their side.


www.theguardian.com

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