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Man City take a step closer to a fourth straight title by thrashing Fulham

Manchester City are closing in on another title (Zac Goodwin/PA)
Manchester City are closing in on another title (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Manchester City returned to the top of the Premier League and took another step towards being crowned champions with a 4-0 victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Josko Gvardiol’s brace, Phil Foden’s 59th-minute goal and a stoppage-time Julian Alvarez penalty helped City move two points in front of title-rivals Arsenal ahead of their visit to Manchester United on Sunday.

If the Gunners drop points at Old Trafford, City can wrap up the title when they travel to Tottenham on Tuesday.

Josko Gvardiol bagged a brace for dominant Manchester City
Josko Gvardiol bagged a brace for dominant Manchester City (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Pep Guardiola’s side, who would be the first side in history to win four successive Premier League titles, produced a clinical display in west London.

City stifled Fulham with possession before they struck in the 13th minute.

Left-back Gvardiol drove with the ball down the wing, playing a neat one-two with Kevin De Bruyne before he cut in on his weaker right foot and showed a striker’s composure to finish past Bernd Leno into the bottom left corner.

Guardiola prioritised height in his starting XI with four traditional centre-backs playing across the back four. The decision began to pay off as the visitors dominated second balls and duels before Bernardo Silva tested Leno from the edge of the area.

Josko Gvardiol gives Manchester City the lead
Josko Gvardiol gives Manchester City the lead (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Fulham struggled to get going. A suspected injury forced Nathan Ake off and his replacement Kyle Walker nullified experienced 35-year-old Willian as the hosts failed to find a creator to feed nine-goal striker Rodrigo Muniz.

City should have doubled their lead from a corner. They decided to go short and De Bruyne’s whipped delivery found Manuel Akanji at the back post, but the unmarked Switzerland defender’s first-time effort ballooned over the bar and into the stands.

Marco Silva turned to the bench in the form of the electric Adama Traore who came on for the anonymous Willian at half-time.

After Traore tested his legs with a surging burst down the right, City countered and Silva’s rifled effort was denied by Leno from inside the six-yard box.

Gvardiol was beaten by Traore for a second time in as many minutes as Fulham created their chance of the match. The winger’s low cross picked out Muniz whose glancing shot had to be kept out by Ederson’s reaching arms.

But typical of City’s potent instincts, they were patient in defence before they threw men forward to snatch a second.

Silva, who spun Antonee Robinson with a delightful first touch into space to evade the press, cut into a central area, playing it short to Foden who picked out the left corner with a quick first-time strike for his 25th goal of the season.

Gvardiol got a touch on Silva’s cross to the back post, relying on a rare error from Leno who allowed the ball to trickle over the line to make it 3-0.

And in added-time, Issa Diop was shown a second yellow card for a poor challenge in the box and substitute Alvarez converted from 12-yards to seal a dominant victory on the road.