Manchester City moves top of Premier League after Josko Gvardiol brace sinks Fulham

Manchester City defender Josko Gvardiol celebrates his goal with Phil Foden during their Premier League match against Fulham. Picture: Adrian Dennis / AFP

Manchester City defender Josko Gvardiol celebrates his goal with Phil Foden during their Premier League match against Fulham. Picture: Adrian Dennis / AFP

Published May 11, 2024


Manchester City swept to the top of the Premier League as Josko Gvardiol's double inspired a vital 4-0 victory against Fulham on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola's side are two wins away from lifting an unprecedented fourth successive English title after a commanding display at Craven Cottage.

Gvardiol put City ahead early on before Phil Foden's 25th goal in all competitions this season increased their lead.

By the time Gvardiol netted his second, City were strolling to three priceless points on a sunlit afternoon on the banks of the River Thames.

Julian Alvarez underlined City's superiority with a late penalty after Fulham's Issa Diop was sent off for fouling the Argentine.

Now two points clear of second placed Arsenal, City will look for a favour from their arch rivals Manchester United, who host the Gunners on Sunday.

If Arsenal fail to win at Old Trafford, City will be crowned champions if they beat Tottenham on Tuesday or West Ham in their final game on May 19.

Regardless of Arsenal's remaining results against United and Everton, City know two more victories will make it a remarkable six titles in the last seven seasons.

City's 16th successive win against Fulham - the longest run of consecutive victories over one team in English football history - also mathematically ended third-placed Liverpool's title challenge.

Guardiola had labelled the Fulham game as the first of four "finals" for City as they aim to clinch the title and then beat Manchester United in the FA Cup final.

They rose to his challenge in style and will head to Tottenham next week boasting a 21-game unbeaten league run, having also trimmed Arsenal's goal difference advantage over them to just two.

A social media video of Fulham players flying a kite during training this week had raised questioned about just how focused the hosts would be in a match that had little riding on it for them.

Arsenal's fears were confirmed as City carved Fulham apart in typically swaggering style to take the lead after 13 minutes.

Relentless City

Guardiola had revealed City practised on a dry pitch with high grass this week in a bid to prepare for a similar surface to the one that caused them problems on their previous visit to Craven Cottage.

City's preparation worked a treat as a flowing 19-pass move climaxed with Kevin De Bruyne clipping a pass to Gvardiol on the edge of the edge.

The Croatian defender took two deft touches as he glided through the Fulham defence before planting a composed low finish past Bernd Leno for his fourth goal in his last seven appearances.

City lost Dutch defender Nathan Ake to injury, but stayed on the offensive as long-range efforts from Bernardo Silva and Foden tested Leno.

Guardiola's men monopolised possession, with Manuel Akanji wasting a golden opportunity just before half-time with a wild swipe that sailed over from De Bruyne's corner.

Fulham threatened when Adama Traore's cross was flicked goalwards by Muniz, forcing Ederson to save at full stretch.

But City took complete control in the 59th minute as Silva accelerated into the area, his progress halted by Joao Palhinha's tackle, only for the alert Foden to pounce with a perfectly-placed strike into the far corner.

Erling Haaland blazed wide with the goal at his mercy from De Bruyne's pass.

However, City struck again in the 71st minute as Gvardiol stretched to turn in Silva's cross with an agile close-range finish.

Alvarez put the seal on a clinical performance from the relentless champions, converting a stoppage-time penalty after Diop chopped him down.