Julián Álvarez earns special praise from Guardiola after wondergoal sends City top

LONDON - Erling Haaland put yet more notches in an incredible first season with Manchester City but Julián Álvarez also received special praise from manager Pep Guardiola after Sunday's 2-1 win at Fulham which put City back on top of the table.

City were dealt a blow with Kevin de Bruyne ruled out with an injury, but even without their Belgian playmaker the combination of Haaland and Álvarez ensured victory.

Haaland's third-minute penalty was his 34th league goal of the campaign — equalling the record of Alan Shearer and Andy Cole and making him the first top-flight player in England to score 50 goals in all competitions in a season since 1931. But it was Álvarez, who was fouled for the penalty, who sealed the points with a majestic strike in the 36th minute, the Argentine firing a superb right-foot shot high past Fulham keeper Bernd Leno.

The 23-year-old Álvarez, who has been used mainly as a substitute this season, now has eight league goals and is proving an effective option for Guardiola.

"Congratulations to Erling. The best goals to help us achieve what we want still is there," Guardiola said. "With Julián, every time he plays he gives us everything. He got the assist for the penalty and after did the extraordinary goal. To have two strikers is an incredible weapon. To play almost all of the games to be world champions with Argentina where there are thousands of talented footballers and to be able to play there is because he has something."

City's attacking options are the envy of virtually every other manager in the world and Álvarez is making a case for more regular starts, says Guardiola.

"It is helping me a lot to understand that in the future I can adjust something to make them both and Kevin (De Bruyne) play," added Guradiola. "In tight games, that's important. It's not just the goal and the penalty, its the pressure and to keep the ball."

City head into May top of the Premier League, in the Champions League semifinals against Real Madrid and also with an FA Cup final against Manchester United. That means eight games in a month that could clinch a rare treble. Next up is West Ham United on Wednesday.

"My only concern now is how we recover," Guardiola added. "We play every three days but that happens when you're in three competitions. Winning games helps with the recovery faster."

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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