Manchester City 2-1 Fulham: Haaland spot on at the death to send Guardiola's men top

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Erling Haaland saved the day for Manchester City and spared Joao Cancelo's blushes as the striker's last-gasp penalty secured a 2-1 win over Fulham in the Premier League.

Cancelo had left City short-handed after an embarrassing red card, which came shortly after Julian Alvarez gave the Etihad Stadium hosts a deserved early lead.

City were seeking a 13th consecutive win against Fulham across all competitions, yet their hopes nosedived soon after the opener when Cancelo was ordered off for a poor challenge on Harry Wilson, handing Fulham a spot-kick that Andreas Pereira tucked away.

Fulham were moments away from a point, but then Kevin De Bruyne was tripped by Antonee Robinson and a second penalty of the game was awarded. Substitute Haaland's kick in the fifth minute of stoppage time was almost saved by Bernd Leno, but the ball squirmed under the goalkeeper, sending City above Arsenal at the top of the table.

Alvarez headed wide from a decent chance in the third minute after a delicious cross from De Bruyne. De Bruyne then had a typically scorching 20-yard drive tipped over the bar by Bernd Leno before Fulham gained any sort of foothold.

A mauling looked on the cards, and Alvarez thrashed in the opener off the underside of the bar in the 17th minute after Ilkay Gundogan's pass set him clear.

John Stones had a tap-in disallowed for offside, but the game changed in the 25th minute when Cancelo was red-carded for an absurdly lazy barge in the penalty area on Wilson, with Pereira slotting the spot-kick past Ederson.

Ten-man City remained dominant, yet half-chances came and went before Pep Guardiola summoned Haaland and Phil Foden from the bench in the 64th minute.

Haaland shot wide from a difficult opportunity, but then his moment looked to have come in the 74th minute, with De Bruyne's delivery from the left a thing of beauty and the striker's close-range header just deadly.

Yet the substitute was marginally offside, the VAR verdict saving Fulham. Just as they looked set to cling on for a valued point, the foul on De Bruyne and Haaland's cool head tilted the game back City's way.

What does it mean? With Haaland and De Bruyne, there's always hope

It was City's main men who made the difference here. They thought they had conjured an open-play winner, only for the VAR to put paid to that, yet De Bruyne drew the late foul and Haaland held his nerve to send Guardiola wild on the touchline. Haaland has scored 16 goals in his last 10 Premier League games.

This is the joint-most goals a player has scored across a 10-game period in the competition, alongside Luis Suarez's 16 for Liverpool in 2013. The penalty was City's latest winning goal in a Premier League game since November 2017 against Southampton, when Raheem Sterling was the hero.

Same old story for Grealish

Jack Grealish has now played 15 games this season, managing just one goal and no assists. Those are problematic numbers that City can just about afford to carry, given De Bruyne is endlessly more productive, but what about England? Can Grealish expect to play much of a role in Qatar if he is not delivering the goods?

Here he had two shots, one of which was blocked as the other went wide, before Guardiola called for Foden and beckoned his number 10 back to the bench.

Stop this Cancelo culture

Guardiola looked eminently unimpressed with Cancelo, stopping him on his way towards the tunnel as the Portuguese became the first City player to be sent off in the Premier League this season. It was the full-back's second red card of his Premier League career, on his 94th appearance, and his first since May 2021 in a 3-2 defeat at Brighton and Hove Albion.

It was also the earliest red card City have received in a Premier League game they have gone on to win since Vincent Kompany's 10th-minute dismissal in a 2-0 win against Hull City in March 2014.

What's next?

City host Chelsea in the EFL Cup on Wednesday, before playing their last Premier League game prior to the World Cup on Saturday, when they again have home advantage against Brentford. Fulham are out of the cup and host Manchester United in the league next Sunday.