MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Erling Haaland scored a second-half hat trick as Manchester City extended its perfect start to the English Premier League with a 5-1 home victory over Fulham on Saturday.
Two days after being named UEFA player of the year, Haaland's treble helped City pull away from a Fulham team that drew at Arsenal last weekend and knocked Tottenham out of the League Cup in midweek.
City took a first-half lead through Julian Alvarez before Tim Ream equalized for Fulham. The game then turned on a disputed goal for the hosts just before halftime that had Fulham fuming as it left the field for the break.
Nathan Ake's headed goal was allowed to stand even though Manuel Akanji stood in an offside position and in goalkeeper Bernd Leno's field of vision as he jumped over the ball.
City, and notably Haaland, made that goal less of a talking point with a dominant display after the break to secure another win for absent manager Pep Guardiola, who continues to recuperate following back surgery.
After a hesitant start, City took the lead just after the half-hour mark when Haaland raced onto a pass from Mateo Kovacic and swiped the ball across the area for Alvarez to stab home.
The advantage lasted just two minutes. Fulham's Raul Jimenez lashed a shot at goal from a corner and Ream pounced on the rebound for a tap-in at the far post.
City regained the advantage from a corner after Ake planted a firm header into the bottom corner.
Fulham argued that Akanji’s movements impacted Leno and their protests were long and hard, even continuing after a VAR review concluded the goal should stand.
Manager Marco Silva was furious on the touchline and the players were still disputing the decision after the ball was placed in the center circle for the restart. Referee Michael Oliver did not back down and Silva was shown a fourth yellow card of the season.
The stormy end to the first half appeared to take its toll on Fulham as City moved through the gears in the second period.
Haaland made it 3-1 just before the hour with a clinical low finish after Alvarez put him through on goal with a quick flick, and the striker converted a penalty before completing his hat trick in injury time by turning home following good work by substitute Sergio Gomez.
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The Associated Press