Gundogan adds gloss to put City five points clear
Manchester City Bournemouth
AWEAKENED and slightly laboured Manchester City still managed to open a five-point gap at the top of the Premier League, a warning to the rest of the competition that even with big names missing they can still keep up their scoring average of three goals per game.
City do function better when David Silva is involved, however, and though the Spain midfielder only came on for the last 13 minutes, it was enough to make the point.
Pep Guardiola rested several key players following City’s midweek exertions against Lyon, though the home side retained enough pace to trouble Bournemouth in the form of Leroy Sané and Raheem Sterling on the flanks. The former was particularly effective in the first half of the game, regularly running on to well struck passes from Ilkay Gündogan or Oleksandr Zinchenko to find space behind Bournemouth’s flattish back five.
The first goal arrived in just such a manner, Zinchenko aiming a ball into the penalty area for Sané to attempt to reach first. The winger managed to stay onside and sprint clear of the Bournemouth defenders, and though Asmir Begovic left his line to try to cut out the danger, the goalkeeper was unable to make a clean catch because Sané was in such close attendance.
Begovic succeeded in clearing the immediate threat from Sané but only at the expense of pushing the ball to Bernardo Silva, who unhesitatingly swept the ball into an empty net from close to the penalty spot.
Ederson, in the City goal, is currently rivalling David De Gea at Old Trafford for minutes spent merely watching games without being directly involved, but like his counterpart at Manchester United he keeps up his concentration so as to be ready when called upon.
Bournemouth might have equalised a few minutes before Callum Wilson brought them level when the same player got on the end of a Josh King cross, though his touch was hardly emphatic and the hitherto unemployed Ederson made a sprawling save. Wilson made amends for the miss a minute before the interval, this time getting above Nicolás Otamendi and Danilo to meet Simon Francis’s cross and give Ederson little chance with a firm and well-placed header.
Turning round level was no more than Bournemouth deserved. City had enjoyed more than two-thirds of the first-half possession but without David Silva seemed short of ideas of how to use it. Gabriel Jesus was inconspicuous as an attacking spearhead, and too many of the home side’s attempted attacks broke down on the edge of the area.
Bournemouth gradually clawed their way back into the game as if surprised at how lightly they were being allowed to get off. As Ryan Fraser and Andrew Surman began to pass the ball around City’s 18yard line, gaps started to appear, and as the interval approached Bournemouth were attacking with the sort of conviction that eventually brought a reward.
Eddie Howe’s team began the second half brightly too, with Wilson straight away getting ahead of Aymeric Laporte to set up a chance for King. City went down the field to hit the post at the other end, Sterling ending an adventurous dribble with a slightly tame shot that deflected off Steve Cook to strike an upright.
Undeterred, Sterling started and finished City’s second goal just before the hour, first setting up Danilo for a shot, then moving up to tuck away the rebound when the winger’s effort was blocked by a combination of Begovic and Nathan Aké.
Even when back in the lead City showed signs of easing up once again, so Guardiola sent on David Silva just to be on the safe side. It was a shrewd move. The substitute had been on the field precisely two minutes when he came up with the pass of the match, freeing Sané to cross from the goalline and leave Gündogan an easy close-range finish.
Callum Wilson of Bournemouth heads home his side’s only goal against Manchester City. Photo: Clive Brunskill