Manchester City defeated Fulham 5-1 at the Etihad Stadium as Erling Haaland notched a hat-trick to maintain their unblemished Premier League record.
With a resolute first 30 minutes in which neither team managed even a single shot, the Cottagers suffocated their famed hosts, and a scrappy contest for midfield irritated spectators.
But it took City just one shot to take the lead. Haaland’s square ball found Julian Alvarez at the back post, and the Argentinean couldn’t have missed from six yards and an open goal.
Tim Ream was given a clear opportunity to score when Ederson fumbled Raul Jimenez’s volleyed effort, giving Fulham the advantage. City routinely grab the lead and hammer their opponents, but this time, Fulham came back quickly.
The visitors were level, but only for a short period of time. On the stroke of halftime, Nathan Ake rifled a shot past Bernd Leno for 2-1, dealing Marco Silva’s team, who had every right to be level.
Fulham had a good second-half start, but City proved to be a formidable opponent and doubled their advantage just after the hour mark when Erling Haaland scored following an exquisite cross from Alvarez.
Ten minutes later, Haaland put an end to the contest with a thundering penalty that was given after Alvarez was brought down in the box by Issa Diop.
Deep into stoppage time, the Norwegian powerhouse finished off his hat trick with a precise, rifled strike from the penalty spot.
City, far from their best, and without Pep Guardiola on the touchline, grabbed all three points without breaking so much of a sweat against an impressive Fulham team. An ominous message to anyone in the league who hopes to challenge them this season.
MAN OF THE MATCH – ERLING HAALAND