Manchester City claimed top spot in the Premier League for the first time since February as Erling Haaland reached another set of a milestones in a 2-1 victory at Fulham on Sunday.
It took Haaland only three minutes to score his record-equalling 34th Premier League goal of an extraordinary debut season in England, the Norwegian tucking away a penalty.
It moved him level on the Premier League single season scoring record of Alan Shearer and Andy Cole.
The Norwegian also became the first player in England’s top flight to score 50 goals in all competitions in a season since Tom Waring did so for Aston Villa in 1931.
“Before Winston Churchill was Prime Minister? Wow. Sounds a long time ago,” City manager Pep Guardiola quipped.
City were pegged back in the 15th minute when Carlos Vinicius rifled a shot past Ederson but they responded to the setback to carve out a succession of chances.
Jack Grealish was denied by the crossbar before Argentine forward Julian Alvarez produced a moment of magic to beat Bernd Leno with a right-foot shot from outside the area.
City were unable to give themselves a cushion after the break despite several chances and suffered some anxious moments but they held on for an eighth successive league win.
They are now top with 76 points to Arsenal’s 75 and also have one extra game to play.
Fulham remain in 10th place.
City’s 4-1 demolition of Arsenal on Wednesday had made them red-hot favourites to claim a fifth English title in six seasons under Pep Guardiola but they still began two points adrift of Arsenal as they kicked off at Craven Cottage.
Few sides have ever been as relentless in title chases as City, however, and they duly ticked off another three points to leave Arsenal in their wake.
The games are coming thick and fast for treble-chasing City but Guardiola says his players are ‘behaving amazingly.’
“The result was tight and it was always open. (The win) is important but on Tuesday Arsenal will play. The important (game) is the West Ham game, it’s a game in hand.”
City were soon in front as Fulham captain Tim Ream brought down Alvarez in the area and Haaland’s left-footed penalty was low and true and gave Leno no chance.
Without the injured Kevin De Bruyne, City did not enjoy the lead for long as Vinicius dispatched a bouncing ball beyond Ederson to bring the home crowd alive.
Ream was soon to leave the field with his arm in a makeshift sling after a nasty fall and Fulham also lost Andreas Pereira in the second half, the midfielder leaving the pitch on a stretcher with his leg in a brace.
City carved out chances at will with Haaland playing in Grealish in the first half whose shot was pushed by Leno against the crossbar. But there was nothing Leno could do in the 36th minute when Riyad Mahrez played the ball to Alvarez on the right-hand edge of the area and the Argentine engineered some space before firing a right-foot shot across high into the net.
Haaland was denied a record-breaking goal by Leno early in the second half and Alvarez was also thwarted.
City then had some anxious moments with Ederson clawing the ball away from the feet of Vinicius as the striker looked in with a shout of scoring a second Fulham equaliser.
Guardiola’s side managed eight minutes of stoppage time calmly and now that they are ahead, few would bet on them not lifting the trophy yet again next month.
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