Premier League: Manchester City 5-1 Fulham

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Erling Haaland displayed his exceptional goal-scoring abilities by securing a mesmerizing hat-trick, while Julian Alvarez played a pivotal role in Manchester City’s commanding 5-1 triumph over Fulham in the Premier League.

Haaland’s outstanding performance unfolded amidst a backdrop of controversy as Fulham departed the Etihad Stadium at halftime with vehement protests regarding Nathan Ake’s disputed goal.

Ake’s goal restored City’s lead after Tim Ream had swiftly countered Julian Alvarez’s initial strike. Fulham passionately argued that Ake’s goal should have been disallowed, citing Manuel Akanji’s apparent offside position and involvement in the play.

Despite these contentious moments, City, guided by Haaland’s brilliance, overcame the challenges with a resolute second-half exhibition, clinching another victory for their absent manager, Pep Guardiola, who continues his recovery from back surgery.

The match initially kicked off serenely, with no inkling of the controversy that would ensue later. City, missing Jack Grealish due to a thigh injury, exhibited an uncharacteristic lack of precision in their possession, while Fulham struggled to fill the void left by Joao Palhinha after his proposed transfer to Bayern Munich collapsed on the deadline day.

Fulham’s difficulties intensified when their captain, Tom Cairney, succumbed to injury after just 16 minutes of play.

City’s performance gathered steam when Phil Foden, who began in Grealish’s left-wing role, exchanged flanks with debutant Jeremy Doku.

The breakthrough for City materialized slightly after the half-hour mark, as Haaland surged onto a pass from Mateo Kovacic and delivered a pinpoint cross that Alvarez expertly converted.

However, Fulham promptly restored parity, with Raul Jimenez unleashing a shot from a corner. Ederson managed to parry the ball, but Bobby De Cordova-Reid’s touch set up Ream for a close-range tap-in.

Controversy ensued once more as City regained the lead in injury time during the first half. They earned a corner when Issa Diop marginally headed Foden’s delicate cross, initially intended for Haaland.

The ensuing set-piece resulted in Ake, stationed near the penalty spot, powerfully heading the ball into the bottom corner.

Fulham vehemently contested Akanji’s influence on goalkeeper Bernd Leno, leading to extended and impassioned protests, even persisting after a VAR review confirmed the goal’s validity.

Manager Marco Silva vented his fury on the touchline, and Fulham’s players continued to dispute the decision beyond the restart, earning Silva a yellow card, a recurring sight this season.

The contentious conclusion to the first half appeared to drain Fulham’s resolve, allowing City to step up their performance in the second period.

Haaland extended City’s advantage to 3-1 just before the hour mark with a precise finish following a deft flick by Alvarez from a lengthy pass by Rodri.

The striker was then presented with another scoring opportunity when City was awarded a penalty following Diop’s clumsy challenge on Alvarez.

Haaland had previously struck the post from the spot against Sheffield United, but this time, he converted with precision.

He sealed his hat-trick in injury time by calmly slotting the ball home following a skillful play by substitute Sergio Gomez.

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