Defender Yoshiko Gvardiol, who has emerged as City’s “number one scoring option” in recent years, scored a multi-goal performance against Fulham.

Manchester City defeated Fulham 4-0 at Craven Cottage in London, England, on Monday (Jan. 11) in the 37th round of the 2023-2024 English Premier League (PL).

Immediately following the win, City took a two-point lead at the top of the standings, with both City and Arsenal equally matched with two games remaining. City has 85 points and Arsenal has 83 points. City, who were considered the closest to winning the title but spent a long time in second place due to back-to-back games, are back in the lead for now.

City will hold the lead for at least one more day (local time). Arsenal hosts Manchester United on Nov. 13 and Everton on Nov. 20. If Arsenal wins against United, the lead will change again. Man City hosts Tottenham Hotspur on the 15th and West Ham United on the 20th. The result of the City vs. Tottenham match will likely determine the champion.

In this crucial match, it was center back Gvardiol, who joined the team this season, who scored a multi-goal game. In the 13th minute of the first half, Gvardiol opened the scoring with a tremendous attacking run that resembled that of a winger. Starting on the left flank, Gvardiol drove the ball into the center and played a two-on-one with Kevin De Bruyne. He then weaved his way through the defense and slotted a right-footed shot into the corner of the net. It was the kind of right-footed shot that Guardiola has become so good at these days.

City, who had been pushing forward in a one-sided fashion, doubled their lead 14 minutes into the second half when Phil Foden picked up a loose ball from Bernardo Silva’s flanking run and finished quickly.

Gvardiol added a second in the 26th minute. This time, after a short passing move from a corner kick, Silva sent in an early cross that Gvardiol flashed across the face of goal and finished with a toe-tap. It was the finishing touch of a world-class striker.

When the penalty kick was taken in second-half stoppage time, Gvardiol, who usually keeps his distance from the kicker, made an 토토 amusing gesture by talking to his teammates, discussing who should take it, and then backing away. Julian Alvarez stepped up to take it.

Gvardiol now has two goals in five games this season, including cup competitions. That’s not a lot of goals, but the difference is that while center backs often score with headers from set pieces, Gvardiol has scored with his feet while playing like a fullback.

Notably, all of his goals have come in the past month. He scored an impressive debut goal for City in the UEFA Champions League (UCL) with a right-footed strike against Real Madrid. He followed that up with a goal and an assist against Luton Town and another against Nottingham Forest in the PL.

In the same period, signature striker Elling Holland scored six goals, while Gvardiol equaled his tally with five goals and one assist.

Gvardiol is showing why Pep Guardiola is so keen on collecting ball-winning, mobile center backs. If John Stones is the ball-winner and Manuel Akanji and Nathan Ake are the mobile center backs who have made an impact on the game beyond the defense, then Gvardiol is the one who combines both. Increasingly tasked with more and more offensive duties, Gvardiol turned into a goal scorer in the final third of the season.

In the stands for this game was Oasis rock musician Noel Gallagher, a well-known City fan. When Gervinho scored, Guardiola was no longer surprised, but instead hugged and celebrated with his teammate.

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