Kevin De Bruyne was the star of the show while Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez also impressed as Manchester City beat Fulham 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium.
It was pretty much one-way traffic from the kick-off as Raheem Sterling forced Fulham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola into action just three minutes in before finding the back of the net a couple of minutes later after being played in by Kevin De Bruyne.
Manchester City continued to pile on the pressure on the Cottagers, but a combination of impressive goalkeeping from Areola and sloppy finishing meant the Cityzens weren’t able to add to their tally. That changed in the 25th minute though, as Sterling won a rather soft penalty, which De Bruyne converted calmly to make it 2-0.
Post the half-time break, Fulham came out with renewed purpose and showed much more intent than they had in the first period, meaning Manchester City were not able to create as many chances as they did in the first. However, the visitors themselves never threatened in attack as Pep Guardiola’s men held on for a comfortable victory at home.
Here’s how we rated the performances of the Manchester City stars on the afternoon at the Etihad.
Ederson Moraes: 6/10
Had very little do throughout the game, with Manchester City controlling the game from start to end. A miscommunication with John Stones in the first half led to a nervy moment. A spectator for most of the game, although he was needed to make one save to deny Ivan Cavaleiro in the 76th minute.
Joao Cancelo: 7/10
Spent the entire first half holed up in the Fulham half and worked well with the likes of Riyad Mahrez and De Bruyne, creating chances and taking an aim at the goal himself on one occasion. A bit reserved after the break with Fulham playing with more intent. Hardly troubled at the back, though. Ended the game with one key pass and four interceptions.
John Stones: 7/10
Another start ahead of Aymeric Laporte and the England international repaid the faith with another fairly solid performance. The one moment of misunderstanding with Ederson aside, Stones hardly put a foot wrong on the day. Helped build play from the back, misplacing just three of his 109 attempted passes (97% accuracy).
— Man City Xtra (@City_Xtra) December 5, 2020
Ruben Dias: 7/10
Made an important block early in the game after Ademola Lookman looked to fire at the Manchester City goal. The Portuguese was always there at the right place at the right time to snuff out any danger, while keeping things moving with his passing. Continues to show why he has become an indispensable member of Guardiola’s side.
Benjamin Mendy: 6/10
A rather subdued outing for the Frenchman who was not tested all that much defensively, although there were a few occasions when he did get caught of position and was dribbled past by an opponent a game-high five times. Not as influential in attack as he tends to be either.
An all-action performance from the Spaniard, who swept up everything that came his way, making three tackles and four interceptions, while also having an effect on the proceedings in the attacking side of things. Pushed forward whenever he had the opportunity and played in a couple of key passes. Enjoyed a brilliant pass success rate of 93%. Was key to Manchester City controlling the proceedings the way they did.
Ilkay Gundogan: 7/10
May not always stand out on the pitch, but the German international was quietly effective as he kept Manchester City ticking in the middle of the park with his sharp, accurate distribution. Had the most touches on the day (130), attempted the most number of passes (116 – 104 completed) while also making three successful dribbles and tackles each.
Riyad Mahrez: 8/10
Riyad Mahrez created 3 big chances vs. Fulham, no player has created more in a Premier League game so far this season.
Playmaking clinic. 🪄🪄🪄 pic.twitter.com/0YGvVnyytv
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) December 5, 2020
The Algerian international may not have been able to repeat his exploits from the last weekend against Burnley, but was still quite a threat with his silky touches and sharp footwork. Set Sterling up for two brilliant chances in the first half, with the second one – a lovely chip over the Fulham defenders particularly standing out. Created another fine opportunity for De Bruyne in the second.
Ended the game with five key passes – the most by any player on the day and would have had at least a couple of assists if his teammates were more clinical.
Kevin De Bruyne: 9/10
The MVP for Manchester City, as usual. Ran the show from the centre, carrying the ball with purpose every time he was in possession. De Bruyne set Sterling up for the opening goal with a perfectly weighted pass before making it 2-0 from the spot. Had a deflected shot saved in between those two moments.
Helped Manchester City control proceedings in such an effective manner by leading the press from the front as he completed six tackles – the most by any player on the day, while also making two key passes and two successful dribbles. Should have scored his second after the break but struck the woodwork and had another effort saved by Areola.
Since the 2016/17 season, Kevin De Bruyne has provided 62 assists in the Premier League; 23 more than the next player.
An absurd playmaker. 🎯 pic.twitter.com/lJ1bI6Kffj
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 5, 2020
Raheem Sterling: 7.5/10
Could have easily had a first half hat-trick if not for some good goalkeeping from Areola, although he could have been better with his finishing. Tested the Frenchman early in the game before beating him with a good effort for the opener.
Won the penalty leading to the second, although went down way too easily after there was minimal contact from Joachim Andersen. A first-time finish after being set up by Mahrez saw Areola pull off a blinder of a save to deny him. Subdued after the break.
Gabriel Jesus: 6/10
The Brazilian was sharp throughout and worked hard as always, linking up well with his teammates in the final third. But, he wasn’t able to threaten the Fulham goal. Did create a chance for De Bruyne from which he struck the bar.