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Manchester City moved a step closer to securing a third Premier League title in four seasons after beating Fulham 3-0 on Saturday.
After a stagnant first half for both sides, a flurry of goals in quick succession in the second half secured another victory for the Sky Blues.
John Stones got the ball rolling minutes into the second half.
Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero each added a goal to ensure the win.
Pep Guardiola’s side is now five wins away from guaranteeing another league title.
It was an understandably tentative start for both sides with plenty to play for.
As they each got a feel for each other, City got the first chance 18 minutes in.
Joao Cancelo did well to release Ferran Torres with a lovely ball into the box from the right inside channel.
Fulham keeper Alphonse Areola did well, though, to stick out his boot and deny the goal.
The French keeper was by far the busier man through the first 45 minutes.
In the 34th minute, Bernardo Silva did well to weave his way into the Cottagers penalty area, but his left-footed shot had little pace on it, and Areola smothered it.
Torres and Cancelo combined well again near the end of the half.
A long ball forward from Cancelo was guided ahead with a nice chest from Torres towards Sergio Aguero.
City’s record goalscorer may have still been a little rusty as his effort was straight at Areola, who covered it up.
Whatever Guardiola told his side at the half seemed to resonate as City were much more attack-minded to begin the second half.
Two minutes in, and they had their noses in front.
A dangerous cross from Joao Cancelo from the left flank travelled past Tosin Adarabioyo right to John Stones, who only had to get a simple touch on it to put City ahead.
Less than ten minutes later and the Sky Blues doubled their lead.
A bad defensive lapse from Joachim Andersen as his clearance struck Ivan Cavaleiro before falling kindly to Gabriel Jesus.
The Brazilian did well to break into the box rounding Areola and finishing it coolly into the empty net.
After that, it was clear sailing for Guardiola’s men, who got a third from the penalty spot from a familiar face.
Adarabioyo was once again the culprit as he lost possession for Fulham in his penalty area trying to beat Ferran Torres. The Spaniard dispossessed him as Adarabioyo nudged him down in the box, and the referee pointed to the spot.
Sergio Aguero stepped up to convert the spot-kick with an excellent right-footed strike in the bottom-left corner.
From there, City was on cruise control and rarely troubled as they picked up the win and another clean sheet.
Man of the Match
Bernardo Silva seems to have finally found his form after a slow start this season.
The Portuguese winger orchestrated several great counters for his side in this one.
Silva was unlucky not to open the scoring in the first half, thanks to a brilliant stop from Areola.
His teasing free-kick helped lead eventually to the opening goal for John Stones after a tough first half for Guardiola’s side.
Silva showed once again tonight his value to this team.
Full Speed Ahead
It seems nothing can stop Man City at this point of the season, particularly away from home.
They’ve now won each of their last eight away league games, scoring 22 times while conceding only three.
Homefield, meanwhile, continues to be a struggle for Fulham.
The Cottagers have lost five of their last seven EPL matches from Craven Cottage while failing to score in seven of their last nine home league games.
Beating up on the new kids
Through the years, Manchester City’s been anything but welcoming to the newcomers joining the Premier League.
They’ve lost only one of their last 36 top-flight encounters against newly-promoted sides.
Better Late than Never
It was a welcomed sight for Sky Blues supporters to see Sergio Aguero’s name on the scoresheet in a Premier League match.
It’s something we’ve been all too familiar with through his time here but until tonight something we hadn’t seen in league play.
His goal from the penalty spot was his first Premier League goal in the past 15 months.
With the Argentine set to become a free agent by the end of the season, that goal could very well be his last hurrah for the Citizens.
If Aguero and City part ways this summer, one player who will miss his presence is Gabriel Jesus.
In 13 Premier League starts beside one another, they’ve scored a combined 24 goals.
The Citizens are unbeaten in those matches, winning 11.
Jesus has been involved in 95 goals in his 114 starts in all competitions for Man City, including eight goals and an assist in his last ten matches.
Following the match, City manager Pep Guardiola said it was a hard-fought victory.
“In general, the game was really good in a tough, tough stadium, they came here, and they won in Anfield last week, and they always create chances.
“We controlled really well, and we played in the first half really good, and we cannot deny we scored the first goal in the first minute (of the second half) with John (Stones) and after much later, the second and the third and it was an important and brilliant victory.”
Fulham’s Scott Parker said his team couldn’t maintain their strong first half, and that cost them.
“I thought first half we took the game to Man City and played very well, were very solid out of possession.
“It’s fair to say there were some sloppy goals really in the second half. Something we’ve not been accustomed to seeing, really.
“Set-play goal which was poor and two individual errors that Man City pounced on and the game was over at that point really, so I think that’s the residing factor from tonight’s game.”
What it means
With this win, City needs just 14 points from their final eight fixtures to guarantee another Premier League title.
They sit 14 points clear of Manchester United in the standings.
Fulham will be hoping for a bit of help from Southampton, who face Brighton tomorrow.
The Cottagers are tied on points with the Seagulls but have played two more games.
City’s attention turns to the Champions League when they host Borussia Monchengladbach from the Puskas Arena in Budapest on Tuesday.
The kickoff is at 8 pm. (JSL).