Leroy Sané scored 96 seconds into his first Premier League start of the season as Manchester City put Fulham to the sword and maintained their unbeaten start to the season.
Despite benching the German winger for the campaign’s entirety thus far, City manager Pep Guardiola says he “never doubted” Sane’s quality, but reminded the youngster that he “must stay professional.”
“We never had doubts about Leroy’s quality,” said the Spanish coach. “He shows us many times in the last season and today he played again so good.
“We cannot forget sometimes this kind of thing happens, he is 21, 22. Sometimes he has to realise what, like a professional, he has to do. I am delighted for his performance and so confident.”
The visitors applied pressure on City’s backline from the start, but a heavy touch on the halfway line allowed Fernandinho to race clear. The Brazilian then squared the ball to Sané who touched the ball into an empty net.
This didn’t dishearten Fulham, though, and the Cottagers maintained their positive mindset to attack the City goal, with André Schürrle seeing his effort tipped over by Ederson.
But the electric David Silva doubled the hosts’ lead before half time after good work from Bernardo Silva before Raheem Sterling tied up the win with a simple finish after being teed up perfectly by Sergio Agüero’s cross merely two minutes into the second half.
Such is City’s strength in depth, Guardiola rested his dynamic left wing-back Benjamin Mendy and this change paid dividence as his side kept only their second clean sheet of the season.
A fourth win from five games keeps the champions within touching distance of league leaders Chelsea and Liverpool, who have taken the maximum of 15 points at the start of the season.
Manchester City, probably with one eye on Wednesday’s Champions League opener against Lyon, eased off the pace after Sterling’s strike in the second half but should have won by a greater margin, with numerous opportunities falling to Bernardo Silva and substitute Gabriel Jesus.
Man of the Match – Fernandinho
The Brazilian midfielder dictated play from start to finish. Not only did he keep things tidily ticking over in the middle of the park, he produced a lung-bursting run to supply Leroy Sané’s with the opening goal.
Despite being 33 years old, Fernandinho is more influential now than ever before for a City side who will expect to win again when they travel to another newly-promoted side, Cardiff City, who lost 4-1 at Stamford Bridge courtesy of an Eden Hazard hattrick for table-toppers Chelsea.
Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Delph (Gündogan); Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho, Silva; Sterling (Mahrez), Agüero (Jesus), Sané.
Substitutes: Muric, Stones, Zinchenko, Gündogan, Mahrez, Foden, Gabriel Jesus
Fulham: Bettinelli; Christie, Odoi, Mawson, Sessegnon; Seri (Anguissa), McDonald, Johansen; Vietto (Ayité), Mitrovic, Schürrle.
Substitutes: Fabri, Chambers, Bryan, Fosu-Mensah, Ayité, Le Marchand, Zambo Anguissa