Stu­art Bren­nan

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IF you are go­ing to get sent off, it might as well be deep in in­jury time hav­ing just scored the win­ning goal – and for ec­stat­i­cally cel­e­brat­ing with your trav­el­ling fans.

And while City star Ra­heem Ster­ling hardly had the great­est of games, for two matches run­ning now he has res­cued the Blues.

Ster­ling was the hero again as the Blues se­cured a cru­cial, last-gasp win against what ap­peared to be, at times, the 12 men of Bournemouth.

How it got to the dy­ing mo­ments was be­yond be­lief – the Cher­ries should have been down to nine men by that point, while City failed to make the most of their tech­ni­cal su­pe­ri­or­ity and ter­ri­to­rial dom­i­na­tion.

That was un­til Ster­ling sniffed a chance in the box and his shot de­flected and looped into the far cor­ner, send­ing the fans into delir­ium.

Ster­ling raced over to cel­e­brate with the trav­el­ling fans, who spilled onto the pitch, and he promptly re­ceived a sec­ond book­ing which saw him march down the tun­nel be­fore the fi­nal whis­tle.

It was ironic that he should be the man to walk af­ter Mike Dean missed two of the most bla­tant red card of­fences you will see

He even ac­knowl­edged that he had seen the first – Nathan Ake’s trip which stopped Gabriel Je­sus from be­ing through on goal – by bran­dish­ing a yel­low. ●●

The sec­ond was a And it was Je­sus who wicked lunge on Je­sus by got them back in it, with Steve Cook, part of what the help of David Silva, seemed a pre­med­i­tated pro­vid­ing the best plan by the Cher­ries to mo­ment of qual­ity in the rough up a team against game. whom they Je­sus quickly took a have never se­cured a Pre­free-kick to Silva and then mier League point. dashed off to give the mid

Those fans were fu­ri­ous, fielder a dif­fi­cult op­tion. spe­cially at Cook’s studsMore alert than any­one up spe­cial, right in front of else on the pitch, Silva them, so their de­light at spot­ted the run and with Ster­ling’s just win­ner was del­i­cate pre­ci­sion slid it all the more sweet. . through to the Brazil­ian,

The Blues had gone who kept his bal­ance be­hind to a screamer of a un­der Ake’s chal­lenge to goal from Char­lie Daniels, fin­ish. a gor­geous half-vol­ley City were much the which flashed in off the bet­ter team af­ter that, bar, Danilo wisely stay­ing although Josh King hit the out of its way. post, as did Ni­co­las Ota­mendi with a header from a cor­ner.

But they could not find a way through, try­ing to link play through the massed de­fence, with­out the power op­tion pos­sessed by other ti­tle con­tenders.

That makes them great to watch – and Bernardo Silva and Ben­jamin Mendy will clearly add to that at­trac­tive­ness – but maybe de­tracts from their ti­tle cre­den­tials.

But when your team has just won late in the game, against a team aided by ter­ri­ble reff­ing, such trivia hardly mat­ters! free ROYAL LON­DON ODI

An ec­static Ra­heem Ster­ling cel­e­brates his win­ning goal

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