Report and free highlights as Manchester City beat Fulham; Raheem Sterling scored and won the 20th penalty of his career - he has now won more penalties than any other player in Premier League history (20)
Saturday 5 December 2020 21:00, UK
Manchester City strolled past Fulham 2-0 with Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne finding the net in another comfortable home win for Pep Guardiola's men.
Sterling set the tone by grabbing his first Premier League goal since mid-October (6) after being sent through by a wonderful De Bruyne pass.
The Belgian then got in on the act from the penalty spot (26) following a foul on Sterling from Joachim Andersen - it was the 20th time Sterling has won a spot-kick in the Premier League, no player in the league's history has won more.
Fulham, who beat Leicester away on Monday, failed to build on that performance and did not lay a glove on City.
This was another sign that normal service has been resumed for Guardiola's men in the Premier League, following up their convincing 5-0 win over Burnley with another intense and dominant performance. The three points moves them up to fourth.
Man City: Ederson (7), Cancelo (8), Dias (7), Stones (7), Mendy (6), Gundogan (7), Rodrigo (7), Mahrez (8), De Bruyne (9), Sterling (8), Jesus (7)
Fulham: Areola (8), Aina (5), Andersen (5), Adarabioyo (6), Robinson (6), Decordova-Reid (5), Reed (5), Anguissa (6), Lookman (5), Loftus-Cheek (5), Cavaleiro (5)
Subs used: Cairney (6), Kamara (5)
Man of the match: Kevin De Bruyne
Any momentum or confidence Fulham had within their ranks after their impressive win at the King Power Stadium on Monday night evaporated into the Manchester air inside six minutes. De Bruyne was instrumental, as ever, in the first goal, seizing possession and bursting forward to release Sterling in the area.
Sterling had already missed a one-on-one chance but was far more clinical with the next one, picking his spot in the bottom corner with a cool finish.
Joao Cancelo was a constant source of imagination down the City right and Kyle Walker may struggle to get his place back on this evidence. He fed De Bruyne inside the area but the Belgian could not find a way past Fulham 'keeper Alphonse Areola at his near post.
City's second goal came from the penalty spot on 26 minutes after more good build-up play ended with Sterling being tripped in the area by Andersen as he tried to find room to shoot.
De Bruyne clinically tucked away the penalty, sending Areola the wrong way.
Areola saved well again from a Sterling volley before the interval - one of four top saves he made in the match.
Fulham tried to push a little further up the pitch after the break but it only enhanced the space on offer to De Bruyne. He curled an effort against the crossbar from 10 yards after a neat pick out by Gabriel Jesus before being denied by Areola after being put through one on one with the 'keeper.
You felt City had another three or four gears to go through but a third goal was not required with a 25-yard pot shot from Ivan Cavaleiro the best Fulham could muster.
City saw out the game without alarm to bag their first back-to-back sequence of victories of the Premier League season.
The playing behind closed doors factor really hits home when a player of this calibre is at his best. De Bruyne's skill deserves a crowd. He is a master of his craft. It was his pass to Sterling that put City on their way to this stroll in the Manchester sunshine. He continued to pull strings and fired home from the spot in typical fashion after Sterling's tricky work. His foot came off the gas in the second period but he still managed to strike the crossbar with a cute effort - one of six shots he had in the match.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said: "We were far away - seven or eight points - weeks ago, now we are there. It is important.
"We have played one game less so we will see at the end of this weekend (where we are) but the important thing is the feeling of the team. There is commitment without the ball, and with the ball we are going to improve.
"I see the positive things. After the last three or four games I see more positive things than the opposite.
"I am incredibly delighted for the performance in Portugal, the way we played and the chances we created. It was so good. Today as well.
"We conceded not one shot on target against Burnley and today one. We created enough as well.
"We will improve, we know it, but if it helps us to win the games it is enough."
Fulham boss Scott Parker: "Overall I'm disappointed with the result, I'm always disappointed when we lose.
"But we understood the challenge. I asked the team to leave an impression. Teams can get swept away here by an unbelievable team and it was a tough ask but I wanted us to stand up to it, individually and as a team, and I felt we did that.
"It is difficult when you go down early but I saw a team with big spirit. We showed courage. We're disappointed but there were a lot of positives.
"This is not a low for us. This is a Man City team that are on a different level to us. We came here wanting to put a performance in and I felt we did that."
City host Marseille in their final Champions League group match on Wednesday before a trip to Manchester United next Saturday evening, a game live on Sky Sports. Fulham are also in front of the cameras as they host Liverpool on Super Sunday.