The champions wasted no time asserting their dominance as Julian Alvarez and Nathan Ake found the back of the net early on, setting the tone for the match. City has now triumphed over Fulham in their last 15 league meetings and top the Premier League table with an impressive 12 points from four games.
However, it was Haaland who once again stole the spotlight with his clinical finishing. Haaland’s predatory instincts were on full display at the Etihad Stadium, where he scored a memorable hat-trick.
After the match, Haaland expressed his hunger for success, stating, “I’m back. No problem for me. I’m always hungry. It’s a new season and I’m ready for it. It started a bit sloppy but we ended in a good way. Important win. We go into the international break having won four in four. Good start to the season.”
Despite Fulham managing to level the score briefly through Tim Ream, Haaland’s brilliance proved too much for their defence to handle.
Haaland’s first goal of the match marked another milestone in his incredible career, as he became the fastest player to reach 50 goal involvements in the Premier League. With this performance, he now boasts an astounding record of 43 goals and nine assists in just 39 Premier League appearances.
This season, Haaland has already notched up six goals and demonstrated his prowess with his sixth Premier League hat-trick since joining City last summer.
The game’s most controversial moment occurred just before halftime when Nathan Ake appeared to score a goal that was initially in doubt due to Manuel Akanji standing in an offside position in front of Fulham goalkeeper Bernd Leno. However, VAR ultimately ruled the goal as valid, much to Fulham manager Marco Silva’s dismay.
Alvarez, who had earlier opened the scoring in the 31st minute, and Ake’s goal put City in the lead, while Alvarez later assisted Haaland in the second half, setting up his second goal. Haaland then converted a penalty in the 70th minute, and in added time, he completed his hat-trick with a sublime left-footed strike from a pass by Sergio Gomez.
With City’s manager, Pep Guardiola, still recovering from back surgery, assistant manager Juanma Lillo took charge of the team. Haaland jokingly remarked, “I think (Guardiola) misses us, we also miss him sometimes too. So we look forward to having him back.”
City’s dominant display and Haaland’s exceptional performance have reaffirmed their status as a formidable force in the Premier League, leaving their rivals in awe and fans eager for what the rest of the season holds.
(With inputs from Reuters)