Su­per Ster­ling sends City five points clear

The Observer - Sport - - Front Page - Paul Wil­son Eti­had Sta­dium

A weak­ened and slightly laboured Manch­ester City still man­aged to open a fi ve - 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 keep up their scor­ing av­er­age of three goals per game. City do func­tion bet­ter, how­ever, when David Silva is in­volved and, though the Spain mid­fielder came on for only the last 13 min­utes , it was enough to make the point.

“We were fl at at times but that’s nor­mal when you play a lot of matches,” Pep Guardi­ola said. “I’m still de­lighted with the win, be­cause one or two big teams will drop points this week­end. Maybe we weren’t good for the whole 90 min­utes but we did enough in 75 to win the game. I don’t know what Leroy Sané ate be­fore the game but I am go­ing to show him the video and try to get him to eat it again. Next time he com­plains about not play­ing, I’ll tell him if he plays like that he will be in the side.”

Guardi­ola rested sev­eral key y p playy ers fol­low­ing wing City’s mid­week ex­er­tions against Lyon , though the home side re­tained enough pace to trou­ble Bournemouth outh in the form orm of

Sané and Ra­heem Ster­ling on the fl anks.

The for­mer was par­tic­u­larly tic­u­larly ef­fec­tive in the first half , reg­u­larly run­ning ning on to well­struck passes asses from Ilkay kay Gün­do­gan n or Olek­sandr ksandr Zinchenko ko to fi nd space in be­hind Bournemouth’s fl at­tish back fi ve.

The fi rst goal ar­rived in just such a man­ner, Zinchenko aim­ing a ball into the penalty area for Sané to at­tempt to reach fi rst. 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, he was un­able to make a clean catch be­cause Sané was in such close at­ten­dance. Be­govic succ suc­ceeded in clear­ing the im­me­di­ate th threat from Sané but only at the ex­pense ex­pens of push­ing the ball to Bernardo Silv Silva, who swept the ball into the ung un­guarded net .

Ederso 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 on. 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 a minute be­fore the in­ter­val, get­ting above Ni­colás Ota­mendi and Danilo to meet Si­mon Fran­cis’s cross and give Eder­son lit­tle chance .

Turn­ing round level was no more than Bournemouth de­served. City had en­joyed more than two thirds of the fi rst - half posses­sion but with­out David Silva seemed short of ideas of how to use it. 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 started to pass the ball around City’s 18 - yard line, gaps ap­pear ed 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 fi eld to hit the post at the other end, Ster­ling end­ing an ad­ven­tur­ous drib­ble with a slightly tame shot that defl ected off Steve Cook to strike an upright. Un­de­terred, Ster­ling started and fi nished City’s sec­ond goal just be­fore the hour, fi rst 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 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 fi eld pre­cisely two min­utes when he came up with the pass of the match, free­ing Sané to cross from the goalline and leave Gündo gan an easy close- range fi nish. “City have in­di­vid­u­als who can hurt you but I thought the goals were scrappy from our per­spec­tive, ” Howe said. “I think that’s the clos­est we’ve come to match­ing them . At least we man­aged to limit them in terms of clear - cut chances. ”

‘ We weren’t good goo enough for the t whole 90 min min­utes but did enough en in 75 to win the game’ Pep Guardi­ola Guar

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