MX23RW : Thursday, December 13 11:41:06

Live Commentary: Manchester City 3-0 Fulham - as it happened

Relive Manchester City's comfortable 3-0 win over Fulham as the champions cruise to victory at the Etihad Stadium.
Live Commentary: Man City 3-0 Fulham - as it happened
© Reuters

Manchester City extended their unbeaten start to their title defence this afternoon courtesy of a 3-0 win over Fulham at the Etihad Stadium.

City were in complete control from the moment they took the lead after just 97 seconds, when Leroy Sane tucked home from close range to mark his first start of the season.

David Silva added a second midway through the first half and Raheem Sterling made it three early in the second to wrap up a comfortable three points for the champions.

Find out how all of the action unfolded courtesy of Sports Mole's minute-by-minute updates below.


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2.02pmMAN CITY SUBS: Muric, Stones, Gündogan, Mahrez, Jesus, Zinchenko, Foden

2.04pmFULHAM STARTING XI: Bettinelli; Christie, Odoi, Mawson, Sessegnon; Johansen, McDonald, Seri; Vietto, Mitrovic, Schurrle

2.07pmWhat can we make of those two teams, then?

Well, Pep Guardiola has kept us guessing with his team selections so far this season and he switches things up again here, with a number of players who were out of favour at the start of the campaign being given their chance after the international break.

The likes of Nicolas Otamendi and Leroy Sane are amongst those, with both having been left out of the team recently despite enjoying brilliant seasons last term.


2.10pmGuardiola has played with a front two of Aguero and Jesus in both home games so far this season, but he has opted against that setup this afternoon with Aguero leading the line alone.

Sane and Sterling will accompany him in the front three - which has a familiar feel to it from last term - with the latter having overcome the back problem which forced him out of England duty to start today.

Raheem Sterling in action for Manchester City on September 1, 2018© Reuters


2.13pmKevin De Bruyne is a long-term absentee for City, but there are no shortage of players capable of filling in for him and Bernardo Silva returns alongside Fernandinho and David Silva in that midfield trio today.

Riyad Mahrez drops to the bench alongside Stones, Gundogan and Jesus, while Mendy misses out entirely - much to the dismay of thousands of Fantasy Football players around the world.


2.16pmFulham, meanwhile, are still without captain Tom Cairney due to a foot injury, but youngster Ryan Sessegnon does return to the side at left-back - replacing Le Marchand in the starting XI.

That is one of three changes made by Slavisa Jokanovic, who also brings Johansen and Christie into the team.


2.19pmAleksandar Mitrovic will be leading the line once again this afternoon, and it is the striker who has been arguably the main driving force behind their form in 2018 so far.

The Serbian is the Premier League's joint top-scorer with four goals in as many games, and he now has 16 league goals since his debut for the club in February - more than any other player in the top two tiers of English football during the same period.


2.22pmMitrovic is the number one threat for Man City to look out for today, then, and they will be particularly cautious of this Fulham side having already come unstuck at the hands of a promoted team this season.

The 1-1 draw against Wolves represents City's only dropped points so far this term, and Fulham could pose similar problems as an ambitious, free-spending promoted team not afraid to attack.


2.24pmCity may be off the pace set by Liverpool - who have just beaten Tottenham to make it five wins from five - as well as Chelsea and Watford, but it is worth noting that they also had 10 points at this stage of last season.

An early-season draw with Everton proved to be a minor blip on that occasion as City went on to amass an unprecedented points haul, and Pep Guardiola will be hoping for a similar story this time around.


2.26pmThere should be sturdier challenges from other teams this season - with Liverpool looking in pole position to push for City's crown - but Pep Guardiola's side are still very much the team to beat.

The dropped points against Wolves is the only blemish on their record so far this season, and aside from that they have looked as impressive as ever as they bid to become the first team in a decade to retain the title.


2.28pmCity have already showcased their ability to win in a number of different ways too, which is always a key element of any would-be champions.

Big teams such as Chelsea and Arsenal have been comfortably swept aside in the Community Shield and Premier League, before City thrashed Huddersfield 6-1 and battled to a 2-1 triumph over Newcastle in their most recent outing.


2.30pmCity have now won both of their home games in this season's Premier League, and they have scored 16 in their last five league outings here at the Etihad too.

Indeed, their impressive home record stretches significantly further back than that, with only one defeat in their last 33 home league games, including 18 wins and 68 goals scored in the last 20.


2.32pmIndeed, Pep Guardiola has only lost two of his 40 home league games in charge of City, and both of those have come against fellow top-six teams.

Guardiola has not lost to a newly-promoted team since April 2011 during his time in charge of Barcelona, while you have to go back to February 2007 for Man City's last defeat at home to a promoted team.


2.34pmThat is a run of 33 games which includes 29 wins, and should the home fans need any more reason for optimism ahead of this match, their side also has a very good record in September.

City have won all eight of their Premier League matches in September under Guardiola, who himself is unbeaten in his last 42 competitive matches in the month, stretching back to September 2010.


2.36pmIt is a daunting task for Fulham, then, and surely the toughest assignment in the country right now, although Fulham do have some reasons to be positive.

Aside from the aforementioned fact that Wolves have already taken points off City this season, Fulham have also looked more than capable of bloodying some noses back in the top flight with seven goals scored in their opening four games.


2.38pmSix of those goals have come in their last two outings too - something particularly handy considering Man City are without a clean sheet in three games - and it is the attacking element of their game which has generated the excitement around this team.

However, balance is an area where they are lacking so far, with only West Ham and Huddersfield having conceded more goals than the Cottagers.


2.40pmFulham have not yet kept a clean sheet this season, extending their wait for one in the top flight to a club-record 20 matches stretching back to their last time in the division.

Indeed, at either end games involving Fulham so far this season have seen 16 goals, which is a joint league-leading figure alongside Arsenal.


2.42pmThe Cottagers began this season with successive defeats at the hands of Crystal Palace and tottenham, but they have since taken four points from their last two and will feel as though they should have more on top of that.

Fulham led 2-0 against Brighton last time out, but let Glenn Murray back into the match and he scored twice for the hosts to turn what looked like successive Premier League wins into just a point.


2.45pmSlavisa Jokanovic will not need telling that they cannot afford to make a habit of that if they are to succeed this season, and their current average of one point per game will not steer them clear of a battle either

Improvement is needed, then, but the early signs have been promising with the summer signs settling into life at the club quickly and looking at home in the Premier Legue.


2.48pmThat improvement is unlikely to start today given the quality of opposition, not to mention Fulham poor record away from home.

The Cottagers have won only one of their last 12 Premier League away games and have just one point from their two such games so far this season.


2.50pmPREDICTION: Right, we're 10 minutes way from kickoff at the Etihad, which means that it is time for a prediction!

I cannot see past a home win in this match, and fairly comfortably too. Fulham have good players and are capable of hurting City, but if they try to attack then there will only be one winner.

SPORTS MOLE SAYS: Man City 3-1 Fulham


2.53pmCity have dominated this fixture in recent years, avoiding defeat in their last 11 clashes across all competitions and winning each of the last five in a row.

Another victory would would make it City's best-ever run against Fulham, having never beaten the Cottagers in six successive meetings.


2.56pmThe most recent of those meetings was in March 2014, when Yaya Toure scored a hat-trick as Man City ran out comfortable 5-0 winners at the Etihad, with Fernandinho and Demichelis also on the scoresheet.

Fulham have now lost heir last three visits to the Etihad, with their most recent victory coming in a 3-1 win in 2009 when Clint Dempsey scored twice - one of only four wins in the Premier League era for Fulham.


2.59pmRight, the players are out and we're just about to get going here! A quick reminder of the team news before we do get started...

MAN CITY STARTING XI:Ederson, Walker, Delph, Laporte, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Silva (C), Bernardo, Sane, Sterling, Aguero

FULHAM STARTING XI: Bettinelli; Christie, Odoi, Mawson, Sessegnon; Johansen, McDonald, Seri; Vietto, Mitrovic, Schurrle


1 minKICKOFF:  Here we go, then! We're underway at the Etihad!

2 minGOAL!  MANCHESTER CITY 1-0 FULHAM (LEROY SANE)

2 minGOAL!  Well, that did not take long!

Fulham had actually made a good start to the match, but with just 97 seconds on the clock they find themselves behind! Seri gives the ball away in a dangerous area and Fernandinho immediately pounces on it to leave City with a three-on-one scenario.

Fernandinho works it perfectly, playing the ball into the box which Sane tucks away from close range.

Leroy Sane celebrates scoring during the Premier League game between Manchester City and Fulham on September 15, 2018© Reuters


4 minNot a bad way to mark your first Premier League start of the season!

This match has started at a brilliant tempo, and already Fulham look wide open on the counter-attack.


5 minSHOT!  City come pouring forward and cut Fulham open up once again down the right here. Walker flies forward and eventually gets the ball back to Bernardo, who works space to shoot but then drags his effort tamely wide.

7 minFulham have begun this match with plenty of intent, but that is playing right into Man City's hands at the moment. It looks like being an entertaining one for the neutral, but Fulham could be on for a hiding if they continue to play in a gung-ho fashion.

9 minConcern for Kyle Walker here as he stays down after seemingly getting something in his eye, although it is nothing serious and he is soon back up on his feet.

10 minDelph plays the ball down the left flank for Aguero, who doesn't have too many people in support but cuts the ball back to Bernardo, who cannot connect with it from the edge of the box.

11 minSHOT!  Ederson fires a long pass upfield for Aguero, against whom the offside flag does not go up, but the striker's eventual finish is disappointing as he tamely puts it straight at the keeper from range.

13 min

15 minOFF THE BAR!  Huge chance for City to double their lead as Bernardo slides the pass through for Sterling, who finds himself with only the keeper to beat. He tries to roll his finish under Bettinelli, but the Fulham keeper stays big and the ball hits the bottom of his leg and bounces up against the bar.

Bernardo keeps it alive and tries to squeeze an effort of his own in at the near post seconds later, but Bettinelli is there again.


17 minUPDATE: Could we have a shock on our hands at Stamford Bridge? Cardiff have just taken the lead against Chelsea through Sol Bamba!

18 minMan City are opening Fulham up at will here - they seem to get in behind the defence almost every time they come forward and a second goal will not be far away if it carries on like this.

25 minSHOT!  It all opens up for Schurrle to have a go from range, but he cannot keep his effort down as it flies well over the crossbar.

19 minUPDATE: There has been a goal at the Vitality Stadium, where Bournemouth have taken the lead against Leicester through Ryan Fraser.

20 minFulham refuse to be intimidated by the threat of this City attack, and they come forward again here with Schurrle doing well to work the ball into the path of Vietto. He takes too long over his decision, though, allowing City to fall back in shape.

21 minGOAL!  MAN CITY 2-0 FULHAM (DAVID SILVA)

21 minGOAL!  What a goal this is. From back to front, you may not see a better team goal all season.

David Silva finishes it off - his 50th Premier League goal, no less - but the beauty was in the buildup with a string of passes. Sterling plays the ball down the right channel for Bernardo, who shows really good strength to keep hold of the ball on the byline before cutting it back to Aguero. The Argentine can't get the desired contact on his finish, but Silva is following in and takes a touch before lashing it in off the bar from close range.


23 minThis could be anything if Fulham insist on playing like this for much longer. City are finding it so easy to get in behind and I would be very surprised if we have seen the last of the goals.

25 minSHOT!  It all opens up for Schurrle to have a go from range here, but his strike is always rising and ends up comfortably over the crossbar.

27 minFor all of their defensive frailties, there have been one of two signs that Fulham could cause problems at the other end. Another of those arrive here as Vietto advances towards the penalty area, but Walker tracks back well to make a good challenge.

28 minAnother almost-chance for Fulham as the ball drops to Mitrovic inside the area, but it is a difficult volley he is trying to take on and he can't steer it on target to test Ederson.

30 minSAVE!  Schurrle tries to catch Ederson out by shaping for a cross but firing a shot towards the near post, but the Man City keeper is alert and parries it behind for a corner.

32 min

33 minCHANCE!  Aguero should make more of this chances as Silva is given all the time in the world to float a pass over the head of Odoi for the Argentine. Aguero takes the head on first time, but cannot direct it on target.

35 minUPDATE: Chelsea have levelled things up against Cardiff through Eden Hazard, while Ryan Fraser has doubled his personal taly for Bournemouth against Leicester and Crystal Palace have taken the lead against Huddersfield.

37 minMore party football from Man City as they exchange quick, intricate passes to create an opening for Sane, but this time the finishing touch is lacking.

39 minThe two Silvas David and Bernardo are pulling the strings for City in this first half, and the hosts have been so dominant that their main problem right now is that they should be winning by more!

40 minAlmost another chance for City as Bernardo darts to the front post from a corner and flicks it on towards the back post. Laporte is coming in, but is just a yard short of knocking it home.

41 minSAVE!  Schurrle has looked most likely for Fulham and he unleashes one from the edge of the box here which Ederson needs to tip over the crossbar.

42 minSAVE!  Sane certainly looks up for this one, and he almost doubles his personal tally here. Silva sweeps the ball into the German's path and he works space to shoot before drawing a good save from Bettinelli.

44 minUPDATE: Chelsea have turned things around against Cardiff, with Hazard scoring his second of the game to make it 2-1. Bournemouth lead Leicester 3-0 through a Joshua King penalty too.

45+1 minThere will be a minimum of two minutes added time at the end of this first half.

45+1 minCHANCE!  Almost a third for Man City just before half time as Sterling collects Fernandinho's pass inside the area, cuts inside past Sessegnon and then bides his time before seeing his effort saved by the keeper.

45+2 minDISALLOWED GOAL!  The resulting corner is only cleared to the edge of the box before being hammered back into the middle, where Sane flicks it over the keeper. However, he did so from an offside position.

45+2 minHALF TIME:  MAN CITY 2-0 FULHAM

3.58pmThe first half comes to an end at the Etihad Stadium, then, and it is Man City who are complete control of this match - and deservedly so.

Indeed, City could and should be further ahead having dominanted proceedings so far, slicing FUlham open almost at well and reveling in the attacking tactics from the visitors. It has been admirable from Fulham, but not the smartest tactics.


4pmThe opening goal arrived after only 97 seconds, with Leroy Sane makring his first Premier League start of the season in style.

The Germany international applied the finish touch from close range after being found by Fernandinho, who was so sharp to pounce on a misplaced Seri pass and launch a three-on-one attack.


4.02pmCity doubled their lead midway through the half with a superb team goal which started from Ederson and was eventually finished off by David Silva.

Bernardo's low pass into the box was initially intended for Aguero, but he fuffed his ines and it broke into the path of Silva, who lashed it home from close range.


46 minKICKOFF:  We're back underway for the second half at the Etihad Stadium!

47 minGOAL!  MAN CITY 3-0 FULHAM (RAHEEM STERLING)

47 minThey scored early in the first half, and they have done exactly the same in the second too!

This is far too easy for Man City as Aguero picks the ball up in space on the right flank and darts straight at the defender before dropping a shoulder and reaching the byline. His ball across the face of goal finds Sterling waiting, and he is left with the easiest of finishes.


48 minCHANCE!  City again threaten as Sane bursts forward down the left flank before cutting the ball back for Bernardo, whose effort from the edge of the box is blocked.

50 minAguero will be eager to get in on the act here. There are plenty more goals out there for City in this second half if they want them, and Aguero could help himself to a hatful.

52 minMan City win a free kick in a dangerous area and Aguero takes on the duties, but his effort goes straight into the wall.

54 minMAN CITY SUB: The hosts are forced into a change here as Aguero trudges off to be replaced by Gabriel Jesus.

55 minCHANCE!  Almost an immediate impact for Jesus as more intricate football releases Silva down the left channel. He plays a low ball into the middle for Jesus, who can't steer his effort on target with his first touch.

57 minFULHAM SUB: Fulham make a change here as Zambo Anguissa replaces Seri.

59 minCLOSE!  Really good play from Fernandinho as he wins the ball back off Vietto and then chooses to go for goal alone. He catches it very well, but his strike zips past the post. That was not far away at all!

61 minMan City have just taken their foot off the pedal in the last few minutes, but they remain in complete control of this one.

62 minCHANCE!  Sterling exchanges passes with Fernandinho to break down the right flank before swinging in a pinpoint cross. Jesus is on the stretch in the middle, though, and cannot keep his effort down.

64 minFulham are enjoying a decent spell of possession at the moment, but even then you feel as though City have it all under control. Better from the visitors, though.

66 minCHANCE!  Yet another shot on goal from the hosts as Sterling is allowed to carry the ball to almost the edge of the area before letting it fly and firing his effort wide of the target, via a slight deflection.

67 minMAN CITY SUB: Another change from the hosts as Delph is replaced by Ilkay Gundogan.

69 minFULHAM SUB: Fulham respond with a change of their own - Floyd Ayite on for Vietto.

71 minWe have just under 20 minutes remaining in this match now, and Fulham are yet to have a shot of any variety in this second half. City are dominant.

73 minThis is like a training session now - both sides know this game is over and that third goal right at the start of the second half killed off any lingering hopes for Fulham.

74 minMAN CITY SUB: A third and final change for City as Sterling is replaced by Riyad Mahrez.

76 minUPDATE: It is turning into a miserable day for Leicester - they are 3-0 down and now have had Wes Morgan sent off too.

77 minSHOT!  Gundogan ups the tempo and pokes the ball into the path of Jesus, who ignores the German's continued run but then fires his effort well over the crossbar.

79 minFulham will be praying for the final whistle now - they are just chasing shadows at the moment with Man City knocking the ball about amongst themselves and making the visitors run.

81 minCHANCE!  Huge chance for City to add a fourth as Walker's pass over the top is collected by Jesus, who in turn tees up a completely unmarked Bernardo. The Portuguese winger has to score, but he lacks composure and blazes his effort well over the crossbar.

83 minUPDATE: Hat-trick alert! Eden Hazard has scored his third of the afternoon for Chelsea, while Bournemouth are now 4-0 up against 10-man Leicester.

85 minUPDATE: Make that 4-1 to Chelsea, with Willian joining hat-trick hero Hazard on the scoresheet.

87 minThere has to be a certain degree of admiration for the way Fulham approached this game - no doubt looking to use Wolves' blueprint - but it is also quite naive. Jokanovic got his tactics wrong today.

89 minSHOT!  Fulham finally have a meaningful shot in this second half as Ayite cuts inside from the right before letting fly, but Ederson watches it all the way wide.

90 minCHANCE!  Another hint of a chance for City as the ball is played in low for Bernardo, but his first-time effort is well blocked.

90+1 minThere will be three minutes of added time at the end of this match.

90+3 minSAVE!  Ederson has had very little to do in this second half, and this is comfortable for him too as he pushes Mitrovic's effort behind for a corner.

90+3 minFULL TIME:  MANCHESTER CITY 3-0 FULHAM

4.58pmIt's all over at the Etihad Stadium, then, as Manchester City cruise to one of the most comfortable wins you will see this season.

City took the lead after just 97 seconds and were in complete control from that moment onwards, with David Silva and Raheem Sterling adding to Leroy Sane's opener as Pep Guardiola's side took all three points.


5pmRight, that is all we have time for this afternoon!

Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for today's match as Man City ease to a convincing victory over Fulham. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to stick around for reaction too.

From me, though, it is goodbye for now!


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Sergio Aguero celebrates scoring for Manchester City in the Community Shield on August 5, 2018
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool1613303462842
2Manchester CityMan City1613214593641
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs16120430161436
4Chelsea16104233132034
5Arsenal16104235201534
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd167542826226
7Everton166642319424
8Bournemouth167272526-123
9Leicester CityLeicester166462120122
10Wolverhampton WanderersWolves166461719-222
11West Ham UnitedWest Ham166372325-221
12Watford166372023-321
13Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton166371922-321
14Cardiff CityCardiff1642101530-1514
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle163491322-913
16Crystal Palace1633101323-1012
17Burnley1633101532-1712
18Huddersfield TownHuddersfield1624101027-1710
19Southampton161691330-179
20Fulham1623111640-249

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