De Bruyne display the cherry on top for City as they look to Paris
Bournemouth 0-4 Manchester City
Published 04/04/2016 | 02:30
Kevin De Bruyne's return from injury might have come just in time for Manchester City to salvage their season.
The club's £54m record signing dazzled on his return from injury at Bournemouth, with a display that will have Pep Guardiola purring in anticipation while striking fear into Paris Saint-Germain ahead of Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final first leg in Paris.
"PSG are a great team and we've got to try to put in a big performance," said the Belgian after his first outing since damaging knee and ankle ligaments against Everton in January.
A big performance was just what they gave on the south coast, winning after 20 minutes of brilliance from Sergio Aguero, David Silva and De Bruyne.
"I trained only once with Sergio - he's been away with Argentina," said De Bruyne. "I'm very happy with the way we played. We've got to play like that more often."
Therein lies the frustration. Had they performed consistently close to the level they showed in Dorset, perhaps the title race would already be over. As it is, this was their first away league win since February 2.
De Bruyne said: "We know it's going to be difficult to get the title, but the main thing now is to win as many games as possible and be in the Champions League next year. This season has been too up and down."
Attention turns to the Champions League, which City may have more chance of winning.
"It's a tournament, so you never know," said De Bruyne. "If the team play at their best, we always have a chance. Our team always create chances - scoring is not the issue."
City manager Manuel Pellegrini is relieved that his team are heading to the Parc des Princes with a spring in their step - rather than on a run of one win in six league matches and without a goal in four of their previous five games.
"I don't know who is favourite," he said. "In the quarter-final of the Champions League, I don't think you have favourites - they are all very difficult teams," he said.
"What is important is the performance of the important players of both teams. We've had some very strange moments in the Premier League, but now we have returned to our normal performance."
Asked if De Bruyne will be ready to take on PSG, Pellegrini said: "We are going to see, because now we can start preparing for that game.
"There wouldn't be any risk to playing him again so soon, because it was not a muscle injury. But we've seen the way he played at Bournemouth and now we have to see how he recovers. We'll assess that and then decide.
"Of course, it's a boost that he's in contention, though, because he's a very important player."
De Bruyne scored City's second goal with the move of the match, sweeping home a side-footed volley after Silva had laid off Aguero's lofted pass.
Fernando and Aguero struck for City either side of De Bruyne's gem, to leave City 3-0 up inside 20 minutes and coasting to victory.
Aleksandar Kolarov rifled a fourth with the last meaningful action of the match to cap a damp squib of a second-half, such was City's dominance.
Bournemouth and Eddie Howe will be glad to see the back of De Bruyne. "In two games against us, he's been outstanding," said the Cherries' manager.
"I always think there needs to be a certain amount of realism with our club.
"We're new to the Premier League, we're still trying to establish ourselves. Sometimes you'll come up against teams that are just too good for you."
Howe also reiterated his belief the Cherries are not yet safe from relegation, warning his players not to relent despite already boasting 38 points with six games to play.
"We're still not safe and we must refocus again. Spurs and Man City have been too good for us, again," he added.