Robert O'Connor, PA
Manchester City breezed past Bournemouth with a clinical attacking display at the Vitality Stadium to move back to within two points of Arsenal at the top of the Premier League table.
The champions were under pressure after the Gunners’ win earlier on Saturday, but it did not show, Pep Guardiola’s side striding confidently to a 4-1 victory on the south coast thanks to a performance full of style and energy.
Bournemouth had a hand in their own downfall, gifting a goal to Phil Foden on the stroke of half-time, that after Julian Alvarez and Erling Haaland had put City comfortably in command earlier in the half.
🍒 1-4 🐝 #ManCity pic.twitter.com/5epU0eDKIE
— Manchester City (@ManCity) February 25, 2023
Chris Mepham’s own-goal added insult to injury for the Cherries who – for all their efforts – were outrun and outclassed.
Jerfferson Lerma’s late strike gave home supporters some momentary cheer, but this had been the champions’ day.
City opened the scoring after 15 minutes, the move beginning with a fine challenge by Rico Lewis, who started on the right of City’s midfield for his 11th appearance in the league, to win the ball out near the touchline.
From there, Ilkay Gundogan played it up to Foden, who was thwarted as he shaped to shoot but instead worked the ball to Haaland. After the striker’s effort smacked the underside of the crossbar, there was Alvarez, first onto the rebound to fire home from a yard out.
The second goal was not long in coming. As Bournemouth pushed forward, Nathan Ake won back possession and released Gundogan escaping down the left.
His ball into the middle again found Foden, who was knocked off it by Jordan Zemura. The defender’s intervention was in vain though, Haaland stealing in to tap home the loose ball to double City’s lead.
The visitors were cruising and had wrapped the game up before the break. The third goal was a calamity all of Bournemouth’s own doing.
Dominik Solanke failed to properly look up and played a lazy, aimless pass, square across the pitch from the touchline. That was pounced upon by Foden, alert to the opportunity, leaving him with the simple task of advancing on Neto’s goal and rolling the ball beyond the goalkeeper.
The Cherries were falling apart and their hopes of keeping the score respectable received a blow five minutes into the second half.
Lewis put in a good cross from the right which was cleared, but only as far as Foden, whose whipped ball in was blasted against Mepham by Alvarez for an own goal.
The hosts, for their troubles, fought gamely to pull a goal back, a goalmouth scramble midway through the second half leading to a VAR check for handball which ultimately did not yield a penalty.
Philip Walter Foden 🌟 pic.twitter.com/VENrYxfvCq
— Manchester City (@ManCityES) February 25, 2023
City though were not in the mood to show mercy and as Bournemouth tired, the onslaught continued.
Riyad Mahrez came off the bench and picked up where the breathless Jack Grealish had left off. The England midfielder put in another outstanding performance as he looked increasingly at home as a regular starter for City.
Lerma’s goal seven minutes from time – blasted into the roof of the net after a silky first touch – gave the freezing home support something to cheer but it did little to take the gloss off City’s day.