Erling Haaland, the hat-trick hero, etched his name into Premier League history once again as Manchester City maintained their flawless start to the season, triumphing 5-1 over Fulham at their home ground.
The Norwegian striker showcased his prowess by netting a remarkable treble and providing the assist that enabled Julian Alvarez to reach 50 top-flight goal involvements in record time. In addition to Haaland’s masterclass, Nathan Ake’s controversial header further dampened Fulham’s spirits, rendering Tim Ream’s response inconsequential.
Notably absent from Fulham’s lineup was Joao Palhinha, whose transfer to Bayern Munich had collapsed. In his place, Jeremy Doku made his inaugural start in a sky-blue jersey, with Juanma Lillo once again taking charge from the touchline. Phil Foden, who had recently recovered from illness, returned to the starting lineup.
The early stages of the game did not offer much to write home about for either side, although Fulham suffered a setback when Tom Cairney sustained an injury in the 14th minute, leading to Luke Harris coming on as his replacement.
Approaching the half-hour mark, Manchester City finally came to life when Mateo Kovacic delivered a perfectly timed pass to Haaland, who unselfishly set up his strike partner Alvarez for an easy tap-in from close range. After a brief offside check against Haaland, the goal was confirmed. However, the champions’ lead lasted only two minutes as Fulham unexpectedly struck back with a set-piece routine reminiscent of the one that led to Palhinha’s equalizer against Arsenal the previous weekend. Andreas Pereira delivered a corner to the front post, where Raul Jimenez attempted a first-time strike aimed at the bottom corner. Ederson made the initial save, but Ream was in the right place at the right time, scoring from less than a yard out.
In the dying moments of the first half, Manchester City demonstrated their set-piece expertise, controversially restoring their one-goal lead in the fifth minute of injury time. Foden’s corner found an unmarked Ake at the penalty spot, and with plenty of time, he directed a header into the bottom corner. Although Manuel Akanji was in an offside position as he moved his leg out of the way of the ball, Ake’s goal stood, leaving Fulham manager Marco Silva visibly frustrated heading into halftime.
The 58th minute of the match further soured Silva’s mood as Alvarez, reciprocating their first-half combination, delivered a pass that deflected into Haaland’s path. The Norwegian calmly slotted the ball into the bottom corner to secure his second goal of the day.
Fulham’s miseries continued as they fell afoul of the officials once again, with little room for complaints this time. In the 67th minute, Issa Diop collided with Alvarez, leading to an immediate penalty decision by Michael Oliver. Haaland, in contrast to his previous attempt against Sheffield United, confidently slotted the ball into the side of the net to double his tally for the afternoon.
This second goal of the day marked Haaland’s 50th Premier League goal involvement in a record-breaking 39 games, surpassing Andy Cole’s previous record of 43. In the fifth minute of injury time, he completed his hat-trick, firing a low shot into the bottom corner from Sergio Gomez’s assist.
Pep Guardiola, who recently underwent a back operation, is expected to return for Manchester City’s first match following the international break, scheduled against West Ham United on September 16. Meanwhile, Fulham will strive to break a three-game winless streak in the top flight when they face Luton Town at home in two weeks’ time.