Manchester City eked out an eventful 2-1 victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage to climb above title rivals Arsenal into the top spot in the Premier League today.
Bidding to extend their winning run to eight league games in a row, Man City flew out of the blocks from the first whistle, and their early endeavours were rewarded in no time.
Tim Ream committed a clumsy foul on Julian Alvarez, who was tasked with slotting in for the absent Kevin De Bruyne inside the area with less than three minutes gone.
Referee Simon Hooper showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot, and Haaland made no mistake from 12 yards, taking his Premier League tally to 34 strikes while becoming the first player in 92 years to net 50 competitive goals in a single English top-flight season.
Despite establishing a foothold in the game early on, Man City’s lead was short-lived on the quarter-hour mark, with Fulham fighting back to restore parity.
Carlos Vinicius, who made his first start in four games, repaid his manager’s faith by thundering home Harry Wilson’s cushioned knock-down to stun the reigning champions.
However, the Cityzens stuck to their guns and controlled proceedings, with the Cottagers looking to pounce on the break whenever an opportunity arose.
Having played his part in the opener, Alvarez took it upon himself to fire Pep Guardiola’s side back into the lead, with the World Cup winner letting fly from 30 yards leaving Bernd Leno stranded in what will undoubtedly go down as a goal of the season contender.
Despite being beaten twice on the day, Leno was the only reason Fulham did not lose by a wider margin, with the former Arsenal shot-stopper showing his quality between the sticks.
Haaland came close to extending Man City’s lead, but his goal-bound effort was repelled by Leno as the Cityzens piled on the pressure looking to seal the tie.
Leno continued his form to deny Alvarez a second goal and keep his side in the game as they looked to find a famous equaliser.
Fulham probed and had a couple of penalty shouts but never really threatened Ederson in the Man City goal, with Guardiola’s side expertly seeing out the slender victory.
With the prospect of finishing in the European places now a distant dream, Fulham will be looking to record their highest-ever finish in a Premier League campaign, having ensured safety from relegation.
Meanwhile, it was business as usual for Man City, who have returned to the pinnacle of the Premier League table for the first time since February.
Guardiola’s side are now firmly in the driving seat for perhaps the first time this season in the title race as they lead Arsenal by one point with a game in hand.