September 15, 2018 / 4:06 PM / 9 days ago

City keep in touch with leaders with win over Fulham

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Champions Manchester City looked close to their sparkling best as they comfortably beat promoted Fulham 3-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday to stay within two points of early leaders Liverpool and Chelsea.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester City v Fulham - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - September 15, 2018 Manchester City's David Silva scores their second goal Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

German Leroy Sane, recalled after being left out of the squad against Newcastle, scored inside two minutes with a close-range finish after Fernandinho capitalised on some sloppy passing from the visitors.

Fulham had, in contrast to many visitors to the Etihad, arrived with a clear intention to take the game to City but after that early setback the task was beyond Slavisa Jokanovic’s side.

David Silva made it 2-0 when his powerful shot crashed in off the underside of the crossbar after excellent work from the outstanding Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester City v Fulham - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - September 15, 2018 Manchester City's David Silva scores their second goal past Fulham's Marcus Bettinelli Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

With his ability to jiggle out of tight situations, his sharp turns, his deft touches and clever passes, Bernardo put on a showcase of his quality.

At times last season, Bernardo appeared to be on the fringes of Pep Guardiola’s revolution, but in his second season since his move from AS Monaco his class is abundantly evident and the coach said he was delighted.

“It is almost impossible to be more pleased as a manager with him. He deserves to play all the minutes he plays,” said Guardiola, adding that Bernardo’s attitude was exemplary during the periods when he was restricted to the bench.

“I don’t forget the behaviour he has last season. He is an example. Last season I said if I stay here, this guy will stay here because he is special,” added the City manager.

With Kevin De Bruyne sidelined by a knee injury, Bernardo has been asked to play in a more central role and he looks comfortable with the adjustment.

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“He can play three, four, five positions but he deserves all my respect,” added Guardiola.

Raheem Sterling made it 3-0 with the most straightforward of tap-ins after Sergio Aguero had finished off a fine passing move with a burst down the right and a low cross.

There could have been many more goals but while they opened up Fulham with some ease, City were unable to fully punish the London side.

“3-0 is a good result but we create a lot of chances to score five, six, seven goals so we have to be more clinical, because goal difference is important,” said Guardiola.

City begin their Champions League campaign against Olympique Lyon at the Etihad on Wednesday.

Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Clare Fallon

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