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Guardiola labels late winner ‘the moment’ of Man City reign

Pep Guardiola labelled Manchester City’s dramatic 2-1 win against Fulham as the finest moment of his remarkable reign at the Etihad Stadium.

City were in danger of dropping points in the Premier League title race after Joao Cancelo was controversially sent off in the first half of Saturday’s game.

But Erling Haaland came off the bench to convert a penalty deep into stoppage-time as 10-man City moved one point above Arsenal to the top of the table.

Haaland’s winner sparked jubilant celebrations from City boss Guardiola, who claimed the champions’ gritty victory ranked as the defining moment of his six years in Manchester.

City have won the Premier League four times in the last five seasons, while also lifting the FA Cup and League Cup under Guardiola.

But the Spaniard felt the character shown by his players against Fulham surpassed everything that had come before.

“Everyone was exceptional for 65 minutes against Fulham, playing the way we played,” he said.

“It was the moment of my period here in Manchester so far and, of course, the goal at the end, celebrating with our people – we didn’t win the Premier League here today, of course, but this moment makes sense of our job for all us.

“It was so exciting. After seven years, you always have doubts: do people follow you? Are they tired? Are people annoyed in their jobs? Many thousands of millions of meetings, training sessions and travel, but today you say, wow, you see, they are there.

“They still want to do it, they are still alive and they make us so proud. We won because my players are beyond exceptional in all departments.”

City had looked comfortable early on and went ahead through Julian Alvarez but the game changed after Cancelo bundled over Harry Wilson to concede a penalty and see red.

Andreas Pereira buried the spot-kick and it required fit-again Haaland to finally end Fulham’s stubborn second half resistence.

Guardiola had no complaints about Cancelo’s sending off, saying: “He was the last man. It was soft contact but there cannot be contact. It is a red card.”

While Haaland once again finished as City’s hero with his 23rd goal in 16 competitive appearances, Kevin De Bruyne also played a key role by winning the late penalty.

“I have said he is not at his best in the recent past – but he was completely the opposite today. He put the team on his shoulders,” Guardiola said.

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