Manchester City returned to winning ways at the weekend with a comfortable 4-0 victory away at Bournemouth. The Blues, who have stuttered of late in the league, and find themselves in a battle to hold on to 4th spot, brushed aside any fears on Saturday with the kind of performance that left many wondering why they are currently unable to string together any real form. Although City were without Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Yaya Touré, Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph, outgoing manager Manuel Pellegrini was able to welcome Kevin De Bruyne back into the fold, the midfielder returning after 2 months on the side-lines due to a knee injury picked up against Everton back in January. Samir Nasri, who had been out since the reverse fixture at the Etihad in which City won 5-1 back in October, was also fit enough to claim a place on the bench.
The visitors began brightly, and found themselves in the lead after just 7 minutes. Bournemouth failed to deal with a Jesus Navas corner, and midfielder Fernando was on hand on produce a smart side foot volley beyond the outstretched arm of Boruc to claim his first league goal of the season. The lead was doubled just 5 minutes later after a fantastic piece of one touch football between David Silva and De Bruyne saw the returning Belgian international volley home with precision.
With City threatening to run riot, they added a third in the 19th minute, this time Spanish winger Navas somehow digging out a cross from the touchline, and Sergio Agüero rising above everyone to head home, despite the best efforts of the home side to clear on the line. At the other end, when called upon Willy Cabellero was more than up to the task to deny Joshua King with a header, while City were unlucky not to get a fourth themselves when Fernandinho rattled the bar from 25 yards with Boruc well beaten.
After the break, and with the match seemingly won, City were content to knock the ball around and limit Bournemouth to efforts from distance, no doubt with one eye on the midweek clash in the Champions League. At the other end, Boruc had to be at his best to keep City from adding to their lead, most noticeably when producing a great save to deny another De Bruyne volley. Just shy of the hour Pellegrini was able to bring the Belgian off, no doubt delighted with how his return had gone, for Aleks Kolarov, while David Silva was rested soon after, giving much needed game time to the returning Samir Nasri. The final substitution came when promising youngster Kelechi Iheanacho replaced Agüero with 11 minutes left. There was still time for City to add a fourth, when substitute Kolarov cut through several players to smash home emphatically.
The win saw City gain on leaders Leicester, albeit temporarily, while also keeping the pressure on Tottenham and Arsenal in the other Champions League spots. However, with West Ham managing a draw and United winning on Sunday, only 3 points now separate 4th – 6th spot. The biggest delight for City, aside from a return to goal-scoring form, will be a halt to the slide in away form which had seen them struggle, picking up only 11 points in the last 11 on the road before Saturday’s win. City will once again be hoping they can build on this and string together 2 successive wins in the league, a feat which incredibly they have not achieved since October.
Next up is the tough trip to Paris to face PSG in the Champions League quarter finals. The French champions have been in devastating goal-scoring form themselves of late, although City will be hoping they can carve out another performance like Saturday and at least bring something back to the Etihad to play for in the return fixture. For their troubles, Bournemouth, who find themselves 11 clear of the relegation zone, and just 2 shy of the illusive 40-point mark, will face few teams in such rampant form during the run in, with manager Eddie Howe quick to acknowledge the former Premier League champions had been fantastic on both occasions when the sides met this season.
MOTM: Kevin De Bruyne Truth be told, it could have been one of 5 or 6 players, with quite a few putting in confident performances, but for me De Bruyne just edges it. Despite a stuttering start, the Belgian soon got into the flow of the game, dictating play from the number 10 role with aplomb, and but for a smart save from Boruc he could have had more than the 1 goal to show for his hour’s work.Share this: