Friday 20 April 2018

Sterling on the rise with late strike to break Cherries' hearts

Bournemouth 1-2 Manchester City

Raheem Sterling turns away to celebrate scoring the winning goal as Bournemouth players show their disappointment Photo: Reuters
Raheem Sterling turns away to celebrate scoring the winning goal as Bournemouth players show their disappointment Photo: Reuters

Dean Court

In the seventh minute of added time, the Manchester City technical area exploded to life, as Raheem Sterling wheeled away after earning the most priceless of three points on a picture-postcard afternoon at Bournemouth. His celebrations as he jumped in to the travelling supporters earned him a second yellow card - but may not care too much, as Pep Guardiola's side took victory in the cruellest manner, in an entertaining contest between two teams coached by perfectionists.

City were heading for a second successive Premier League draw before Sterling nicked a winner, with precious little time to play. Gabriel Jesus drilled in a first-half equaliser for City after the Bournemouth defender Charlie Daniels filed an early contender for goal of the season, with a rasping half volley that pinballed off the crossbar and in from 20 yards. At the final whistle, Eddie Howe had his head in his hands. City, though, had extended their unbeaten record to 11 matches and broken Bournemouth hearts in the most dramatic style.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe with the referee after Raheem Sterling was sent off Photo: REUTERS/Tony O'Brien
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe with the referee after Raheem Sterling was sent off Photo: REUTERS/Tony O'Brien

Guardiola made four changes from City's draw with Everton on Monday, with Sergio Agüero among those to drop to a bench brimming with more than £202m worth of talent. Benjamin Mendy and Bernardo Silva, both of whom arrived from Monaco over the summer, made their first starts for the club while Guardiola shifted to a back four, with another summer signing, Danilo, at right-back.

Eddie Howe made three changes from their defeat by Watford, with Jermain Defoe handed his first Premier League start in Bournemouth colours. At the back, Howe opted for a back three, with Tyrone Mings making his first league start since his altercation with Zlatan Ibrahimovic on March 4.

Bournemouth's inevitable fast start - after a pointless opening to the new season - startled City, with Mendy especially slow to settle on his City debut. Joshua King released Adam Smith, darting down the right flank, before supplying Defoe, who saw his effort blocked by Vincent Kompany after five minutes.

It was a measure of how impressively Bournemouth began that a first league goal this season, after 13 minutes here, took nobody inside Dean Court by surprise. After a swell of pressure Dan Gosling's effort was headed away by Kompany but only as far as an onrushing Daniels, who needed no second invitation to thrash the ball home. He rifled an unwavering, arrowed half-volley towards goal, which smacked the inner frame of Ederson's crossbar before crashing in past the Manchester City goalkeeper.

Bournemouth's Dan Gosling after the match Photo: REUTERS/Tony O'Brien
Bournemouth's Dan Gosling after the match Photo: REUTERS/Tony O'Brien

City looked shell-shocked and could have fell further behind but for Ederson, who denied Defoe from close range after the England striker lost his marker, Mendy, to meet Andrew Surman's neat first-time cross. Bournemouth had City rattled but not for much longer, with David Silva crafting a fine equaliser eight minutes later. The move was started and finished by Jesus, who took a quick free-kick before Silva slid him through with a beautifully weighted pass and he rolled the ball beyond Asmir Begovic.

Sixty seconds later, Jesus again got the better of Nathan Aké, robbing him of the ball before he was fouled by the Bournemouth defender 25 yards or so from goal. Aké was arguably the last man and fortunate to escape with only a booking from the referee, Mike Dean.

Jesus then shinned an effort wide after a dangerous ball by Mendy. Bernardo Silva, too, had a golden chance but spurned what was virtually a free hit at Begovic's goal. City had suddenly found their groove.

After the interval, Steve Cook, the Bournemouth defender, put in a bruising late challenge on Jesus but both came away from the tackle unscathed. City continued to pry for an opening as Kevin De Bruyne grew increasingly instrumental. It was his sweeping cross that eventually found its way to Bernardo Silva, but the forward got himself in a tangle at the back post. Then Bournemouth went even closer, with King striking an upright after Harry Arter seized possession from Fernandinho before whipping in a cross. Ederson was beaten all ends up.

City, though, continued to pour forward and Guardiola called upon Agüero in search of a winner. He won a corner with which De Bruyne laid the ball on a plate for the unmarked Nicolás Otamendi, erratic at times in his own penalty area, whose tame header struck the post.

Bournemouth had one more final warning, only for Daniels to get his team-mate Aké off the hook. The Dutchman threw a stray boot at Mendy's devious cross but Daniels slid in to deny an onrushing David Silva the simplest of finishes. But after Lee Probert had signalled for five added second-half minutes, City eventually found a shattering winner.

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