Friday 9 December 2016

Dazzling City hit new heights

Manchester City 4 Bournemouth 0

Jamie Jackson

Published 18/09/2016 | 02:30

Manchester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho celebrates scoring their second goal against Bournemouth yesterday. Photo: Reuters
Manchester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho celebrates scoring their second goal against Bournemouth yesterday. Photo: Reuters

Manchester City and their supporters currently occupy the kind of dreamland Pep Guardiola was hired to lead them into and the fascination is how long they can remain there. This was an eighth win from an eighth outing in all competitions. The football was sublime and made to look simple. And, to listen to the weekly exhortations from their perfection-seeking manager, there is far more to come.

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By the time Ilkay Gündogan scored to make it 4-0, and goal No 25 this season, there were still 24 minutes remaining and if Eddie Howe could have thrown the towel in he might have considered it.

Raheem Sterling bursts through the Bournemouth defence. Photo: Getty
Raheem Sterling bursts through the Bournemouth defence. Photo: Getty

That finish by Gündogan came from the latest assist from the sublime Kevin De Bruyne, who again showed what a fine footballer he is on a day when he opened the scoring and had a hand in the other three goals.

As is becoming the custom under Guardiola, City raced into an early advantage and after only 25 minutes they were 2-0 ahead and the contest was already over, it seemed. De Bruyne is one of the more luminescent lights in this sparkling City side. Last Saturday the Belgian opened the scoring in the derby win and helped create Kelechi Iheanacho's winner. Now he offered up a similar act.

De Bruyne's second strike of the campaign came courtesy of his quicksilver brain. When he stood over a free-kick from around 20 yards out and to the left of Artur Boruc's goal, a regulation shot or cross seemed the options. Instead the midfielder hit the ball low and with cunning to aim under the wall with an effort that beat Boruc to his right.

This made it seven games from eight in which City had scored within the opening half-hour and if De Bruyne's first was refreshing for its left-field quality, their second was equally as enjoyable. This time De Bruyne roved forward and fed Raheem Sterling along his right-hand corridor. The England man did what he is rapidly improving at - chose the best option - and passed across the area and Iheanacho turned in for his second in two weekends.

Kelechi Iheanacho scores City's second goal. Photo: Getty
Kelechi Iheanacho scores City's second goal. Photo: Getty

At the break City were coasting and Guardiola's message may have been just to keep on keeping on. For this fifth league outing the manager named Vincent Kompany in a first squad under him, the captain a substitute along with John Stones, who was replaced in central defence by Aleksandar Kolarov.

While the Serb partnered Nicolas Otamendi and Gündogan made a Premier League bow, Jack Wilshere was given a full Bournemouth debut by Howe, the Arsenal loanee playing as the No 10.

As Wilshere observed City's pinball-wizardry pass him by, did he wonder what-might-have-been regarding the formerly proposed move here? He may have stepped out for the second half determined to wrest the game from City's grasp but within three minutes it was 3-0 and this threatened to become embarrassing for Wilshere and team-mates.

De Bruyne (again), Iheanacho (again) and Sterling (again) were all involved. The Belgian ran toward goal, slid a pass into the Nigerian, and when the ball was rolled towards City's No 7 Sterling made no mistake.

After Gündogan's finish the sole sour note for City was Nolito's red card near the end for aiming (and missing) a headbutt at Adam Smith. Given how the side are playing, Nolito will fear for his starting berth while suspended.

At the moment City and their fans are living in a Guardiola wonderland. Can they stay there? At the moment there seems only one answer.

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