Soccer

Bournemouth 0-1 Man City: Guardiola’s side put pressure on Liverpool

Bournemouth 0-1 Manchester City: Riyad Mahrez comes off the bench to score winner as Pep Guardiola’s side heap pressure back on Liverpool in the title race ahead of Merseyside derby

  • Manchester City heaped the pressure back on Liverpool in the title race with a 1-0 win over Bournemouth 
  • City were kept at bay by a resilient Bournemouth in a first half that also saw Kevin De Bruyne go off injured 
  • They finally made the breakthrough after half-time though with sub Riyad Mahrez scoring at the near post 
  • Bournemouth offered little in attack as City went two points above Liverpool before the Merseyside derby

For Manchester City, the stress signals came. One by one, the wounded trudged off the field and down the tunnel.

Shortly before the interval, Kevin De Bruyne felt a tweak in his hamstring, stumbled over to the touchline and after a chat with Pep Guardiola, he exited the fray. Then, immediately after the interval, John Stones followed the same pattern.

Having already lost Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho, City’s men are falling at an alarming rate and as the coming weeks evolve, it may be that Guardiola’s men come up short across three competitions. 

Manchester City heaped the pressure back on Liverpool in the Premier League title race with a 1-0 win over Bournemouth

Manchester City heaped the pressure back on Liverpool in the Premier League title race with a 1-0 win over Bournemouth

Mahrez slammed home a right-footed effort in at the near post that Bournemouth's goalkeeper should have kept out

Mahrez slammed home a right-footed effort in at the near post that Bournemouth’s goalkeeper should have kept out

The former Leicester winger looked delighted after coming off the bench to score his tenth goal of the campaign

The former Leicester winger looked delighted after coming off the bench to score his tenth goal of the campaign

Pep Guardiola beamed with delight as he celebrated the opening goal with his coaching staff on the touchline

Pep Guardiola beamed with delight as he celebrated the opening goal with his coaching staff on the touchline

MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS, PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE 

Bournemouth: Boruc, Clyne (Rico 82), Mepham, Ake, Smith, Simpson (Ibe 82), Fraser, Brooks (Mousset 75), Surman, Daniels, King.

Subs not used: Gosling, Begovic, Taylor, Surridge.

Goals: None

Bookings: King

Manager: Eddie Howe 

Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Stones (Kompany 48), Otamendi, Zinchenko, De Bruyne (Mahrez 45), Gundogan, D Silva, B Silva, Aguero (Jesus 89), Sterling.

Subs not used: Danilo, Sane, Foden, Muric.

Goals: Mahrez 54

Bookings: Otamendi, Walker

Manager: Pep Guardiola 

Referee: Kevin Friend   

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Riyad Mahrez fired a low effort in at the near post to give Manchester City the lead. Click HERE for more from our Match Zone.

Riyad Mahrez fired a low effort in at the near post to give Manchester City the lead. Click HERE for more from our Match Zone.

Briefly, we wondered whether this may become the kind of awkward away encounter that undermine title charges. Certainly, as City sought to protect a slender advantage late on, Guardiola’s agitation increased on the touchline. 

When Kyle Walker and Josh King squared up in front of the dugout, Guardiola himself stepped between the two players to ensure Walker did not end up in too much bother. When Walker then squandered possession recklessly, his manager gripped his head in his hands and squatted down on his haunches in angst-ridden frustration.

On the final whistle, there were bear hugs with his coaching staff and the kind of embraces that suggested City had overcome a significant hurdle.

While City are losing key players and some fluency, this was a day when the manager would have learned much about his players. When the going got tough, the tough got going 

Managers Pep Guardiola and Eddie Howe embrace and exchange a few pleasantries before kick-off on the south coast

Managers Pep Guardiola and Eddie Howe embrace and exchange a few pleasantries before kick-off on the south coast

There was no easing into the match for January signing Chris Mepham as he dived into a forceful tackle on Raheem Sterling

There was no easing into the match for January signing Chris Mepham as he dived into a forceful tackle on Raheem Sterling

Manchester City were in control from the outset and Sergio Aguero found himself under pressure from Joshua King

Manchester City were in control from the outset and Sergio Aguero found himself under pressure from Joshua King

Bournemouth's star strike Callum Wilson watches on from the stands with Steve Cook as he continue to sit out with an injury

Bournemouth’s star strike Callum Wilson watches on from the stands with Steve Cook as he continue to sit out with an injury

Nicolas Otamendi tries to find an opening for the away team but the ball runs away to safety, much to the relief of the hosts

Nicolas Otamendi tries to find an opening for the away team but the ball runs away to safety, much to the relief of the hosts

Bournemouth were resilient in the first half and Nathan Ake got tangled with Bernardo Silva during one defensive tackle

Bournemouth were resilient in the first half and Nathan Ake got tangled with Bernardo Silva during one defensive tackle

Guardiola knows that City have no room for error in their gripping pursuit of Liverpool and any dropped points at this stage would represent a drama. In truth, City had more than enough chances to have secured a more handsome victory. Still, this is a fifth victory in succession and puts pressure on Liverpool ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Merseyside rivals Everton.

The relief for City’s manager was understandable. For 55 minutes on the south coast, City’s performance was rather stodgy and the flair that epitomises Guardiola’s side appeared elusive.

There is, also, a degree of perspective required. The violins will not be playing too loudly for a team that can bring the £60m Riyad Mahrez from the substitute’s bench and it was the Algerian who crucially provided the deadlock. The goal itself was rather scruffy.

Oleksandr Zinchenko worked his inside and Bournemouth could not quite clear their lines. David Silva took the ball on inside the penalty area, nudged it to his right towards Mahrez, who had time to control before scuffing a low finish past Artur Boruc at his near post. 

City defender Otamendi attempted an acrobatic bicycle kick that caused Boruc some problems in the Bournemouth goal

City defender Otamendi attempted an acrobatic bicycle kick that caused Boruc some problems in the Bournemouth goal

City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne limped off injured during the first half of the game after playing a pass forward to a colleague

City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne limped off injured during the first half of the game after playing a pass forward to a colleague

Manchester City's medical staff were clearly concerned after their Belgian play maker suffered yet another injury this season

Manchester City’s medical staff were clearly concerned after their Belgian play maker suffered yet another injury this season

Adam Smith races out to close down a cross from Bernardo Silva as City were held out during the opening 45 minutes

Adam Smith races out to close down a cross from Bernardo Silva as City were held out during the opening 45 minutes

Bournemouth's Nathan Ake was sent crashing to the turf after colliding with City goalkeeper Ederson at a set piece

Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake was sent crashing to the turf after colliding with City goalkeeper Ederson at a set piece

A loose pass fell to David Silva and the Spaniard unselfishly teed up Mahrez who fired underneath Boruc at the near post

A loose pass fell to David Silva and the Spaniard unselfishly teed up Mahrez who fired underneath Boruc at the near post

After taking the lead, City continued to create chances. Bernardo Silva produced a sublime pass to split the Bournemouth defence and Raheem Sterling was denied by a fine Boruc save. Borus then produced a more eye-catching intervention when Sterling broke through once more. The England international looked to have headed the ball past Boruc on his way to rounding the goalkeeper but a hand appeared to claw the ball away.

By the latter stages, the game enjoyed an openness that was not forthcoming in the first period. City, as ever, had been the dominant side. During the first half, City enjoyed over eighty per cent of ball possession and their hosts did not earn a corner or produce a shot on goal.

For all the oppressive numbers, though, Bournemouth actually looked quite comfortable and they earned a club record of their own by preventing City from scoring in a half of Premier League football for the first time. Yet even when City are a touch off-colour, they continue to play, continue to create opportunities. David Silva had the best of the first-half chances, side-footing wide after a De Bruyne pull-back. City also threatened from set-pieces, as Boruc clawed down to deflect away a Jack Simpson miscue.

Bournemouth are a peculiar team that started the season impressively but their campaign has been derailed by injuries and stuttering form. They have lost nine consecutive away games but they are a different beat at home, where had only been defeated by Liverpool in their last seven. 

Manchester City stars ran over to celebrate the opening game of the goal together after finally finding a way through

Manchester City stars ran over to celebrate the opening game of the goal together after finally finding a way through

Bournemouth's players looked deflated after they were once again beaten by one member of the Premier League's 'big six'

Bournemouth’s players looked deflated after they were once again beaten by one member of the Premier League’s ‘big six’

Otamendi stretches out a long to clear a dangerous pass as Bournemouth offered very little in attack all afternoon

Otamendi stretches out a long to clear a dangerous pass as Bournemouth offered very little in attack all afternoon

Raheem Sterling carried a huge threat on the break as the hosts chased an equaliser and was unlucky not to make it 2-0

Raheem Sterling carried a huge threat on the break as the hosts chased an equaliser and was unlucky not to make it 2-0

Tempers flared on the touchline when there was a clash between Kyle Walker and Joshua King in front of the dugout

Tempers flared on the touchline when there was a clash between Kyle Walker and Joshua King in front of the dugout

Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany gives a thumbs up as his side climbed over title rivals Liverpool in the table

Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany gives a thumbs up as his side climbed over title rivals Liverpool in the table

As Chelsea and Maurizio Sarri discovered, Bournemouth can be quite the team when the mood takes them. Eddie Howe’s team were open and defensively dreadful at Arsenal during the week and the 5-1 scoreline actually flattered them.

On this occasion, Bournemouth arrived with a plan to frustrate and a five man defence that was fiercely protected by a dogged team performance. David Brooks, a player that City let go as a 16-year-old schoolboy, returned to midfield and added poise and quality to Bournemouth’s performance.

Yet for all Bournemouth’s tenacity and spirit, there was always a sense that they may tire and that City could work through the gears and so it proved. 

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