Monday 17 December 2018

Man City strengthen grip at top of Premier League with Bournemouth win

Goals from Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Gundogan saw City move five points clear of the chasing pack.

Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling was on target against Bournemouth (Martin Rickett/PA)
Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling was on target against Bournemouth (Martin Rickett/PA)

By Andy Hampson, Press Association Sport

Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Gundogan struck in the second half as Manchester City extended their Premier League lead to five points by beating Bournemouth 3-1.

The Premier League champions had been pegged back by a Callum Wilson equaliser on the stroke of half-time after taking an early lead through Bernardo Silva at the Etihad Stadium.

Pep Guardiola’s side let their pace drop at times but Sterling responded and hit the post before putting the hosts back ahead, and Gundogan made victory certain.

It was not the most convincing performance but the result ensured City remained in firm control of the competition, with Liverpool not in action until facing Everton on Sunday.

City were without record scorer Sergio Aguero due to a minor fitness issue and his replacement Gabriel Jesus, available again after a knock of his own, initially looked laboured after an early blow.

But the Brazilian ran off the problem and went close to scoring as he stretched to reach an Oleksandr Zinchenko cross and narrowly failed to make contact.

City made five changes from their midweek draw in Lyon, with David Silva and Riyad Mahrez among those to start on the bench. Their flow seemed unaffected early on, with Leroy Sane looking particularly dangerous, twice whipping in dangerous crosses from the left.

City went ahead after 16 minutes as Sane raced on to a lofted pass from Zinchenko. The ball ran loose as Asmir Begovic came out to meet the German but Bernardo Silva was on hand to sweep home. Silva had another shot on goal soon after and Sane blasted over.

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Bernardo Silva, left, celebrates the opening goal (Martin Rickett/PA)

Yet from what seemed a position of control, City uncharacteristically switched off in the latter stages of the first half, allowing the Cherries back into the game.

They were given a warning as Wilson almost got on the end of a Joshua King cross and the pair combined for another chance moments later.

The hosts failed to take heed and were punished on 44 minutes as Wilson met a Simon Francis cross with a firm header that looped beyond Ederson.

City were almost caught out again after the break but King hesitated in a shooting position and the hosts survived. City were also forced to replace Zinchenko after his nose was bloodied in a collision with team-mate Fernandinho but they soon picked up the pace.

Sterling jinked his way through the area and was unlucky to see his shot deflected against the post but he did get on the scoresheet just before the hour. The England forward first teed up a chance for Danilo and then followed up to tuck home after the Brazilian’s strike was parried by Begovic.

City threatened more, with Jesus forcing a Begovic save from a good header and Fernandinho dragging an effort wide.

They were still not completely safe and Wilson almost bundled in from close range following a long throw, but Gundogan put the matter beyond doubt 11 minutes from time. The German tapped home from six yards after Sane and David Silva combined to pull the Bournemouth defence apart following a corner.

Press Association

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