Julian Alvarez admitted “every game is a final” after Manchester City returned to the Premier League summit for the first time since February with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Fulham.
City were pushed all the way by Marco Silva’s men who were resilient throughout, recovering well after conceding an early penalty which Erling Haaland converted.
Carlos Vinicius levelled the game briefly in the 15th minute, but Alvarez’ stunning strike from distance restored City’s advantage and they held on.
“This is where we wanted to be at the start of the season,” Alvarez told City’s website.
“Everyone’s put in really good work and now we’ve reached the top we need to defend it.
“Every game is a final for us and everyone’s going to pull together to make that final effort.”
The Argentinian, who has had to wait for opportunities in Pep Guardiola’s starting line-up, added: “It was really nice to score here, a really important goal at an important point of the match. Really nice to contribute.
“We knew it would never be easy coming here because of the pitch, because of how good Fulham are as a team. We were very happy to withstand the pressure and hold out.”
Fulham manager Silva was left to ponder his side’s small defensive lapses following a largely impressive performance against a team still in the hunt for the treble.
“If you try to block certain areas, they will look to expose others. The players, they stuck to their plan and did it well.
“The moment after we equalised the game was probably our best moment in the match.
“We cannot concede the goal in the way we did. A great strike from Alvarez, I know, but the way we build in certain areas we cannot lose the ball in that way and we gave them a chance in their counter-attack.
“In the second half we were really competitive again. We didn’t create many chances, this is true, but we didn’t give many things to them either.”