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Bournemouth 0-2 Manchester City: Pep's side close gap

by 13/02/2017 18:08:00 0 comments 1 Views
  • Manchester City ran out 2-0 winners over Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Monday night 
  • Gabriel Jesus was forced off with an injury after 14 minutes, giving Sergio Aguero a chance to prove a point 
  • Raheem Sterling gave Manchester City the lead as he converted David Silva's cross from the left flank 
  • Aguero played a key role in the second, as his run at the near post forced Tyrone Mings into an own goal

By Riath Al-Samarrai for the Daily Mail

Published: 16:53 EST, 13 February 2017 | Updated: 18:08 EST, 13 February 2017

He screamed, he waved, he contorted his face and looked to the sky as he ran to the corner. Forget the arrival of Gabriel Jesus, this was all about the second coming of Sergio Aguero. Or so it seemed.

The only complication is that the 69th-minute goal was not his - it was ruled an own goal, by virtue of a subsequent, distorting touch by Tyrone Mings.

But who in that Manchester City dressing room will try telling that to the Argentine? Who from the Premier League would chance delivering that verdict in person?  

Raheem Sterling, pictured celebrating with team-mate Kevin De Bruyne, fired Manchester City into a first-half lead Raheem Sterling, pictured celebrating with team-mate Kevin De Bruyne, fired Manchester City into a first-half lead

Raheem Sterling, pictured celebrating with team-mate Kevin De Bruyne, fired Manchester City into a first-half lead

The England international converted at the far post under pressure from Charlie Daniels, from David Silva's cross The England international converted at the far post under pressure from Charlie Daniels, from David Silva's cross

The England international converted at the far post under pressure from Charlie Daniels, from David Silva's cross

The goal was Sterling's eighth strike of the season, and also saw Manchester City clock up 50 Premier League goals The goal was Sterling's eighth strike of the season, and also saw Manchester City clock up 50 Premier League goals

The goal was Sterling's eighth strike of the season, and also saw Manchester City clock up 50 Premier League goals

Bournemouth thought they had levelled matters immediately, but Josh King was adjudged to have pulled back John Stones Bournemouth thought they had levelled matters immediately, but Josh King was adjudged to have pulled back John Stones

Bournemouth thought they had levelled matters immediately, but Josh King was adjudged to have pulled back John Stones

Sergio Aguero stretched to turn home the second, although the final touch appeared to go in off defender Tyrone Mings Sergio Aguero stretched to turn home the second, although the final touch appeared to go in off defender Tyrone Mings

Sergio Aguero stretched to turn home the second, although the final touch appeared to go in off defender Tyrone Mings

Sterling (left) and Fernandinho (right) celebrate with Aguero, who has had his City future  questioned in recent weeks Sterling (left) and Fernandinho (right) celebrate with Aguero, who has had his City future  questioned in recent weeks

Sterling (left) and Fernandinho (right) celebrate with Aguero, who has had his City future questioned in recent weeks

The visitors were dealt a blow early on as young Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus was taken off injured in the first half The visitors were dealt a blow early on as young Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus was taken off injured in the first half

The visitors were dealt a blow early on as young Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus was taken off injured in the first half

PLAYER RATINGS, LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE 

This stuff matters to Aguero, now more than ever with Jesus holding Pep Guardiola’s affections, and that is what his reaction truly showed. It was a reaction of vindication, of hurt feelings, of proving a point, even if his ‘goal’ did not win any points, only sealed them.

The real damage had been done by Raheem Sterling, who had already nudged Manchester City ahead in the first half. Aguero’s moment, or Mings’ moment if you prefer, merely took the sting out of Bournemouth.

But clearly, in those minutes when he thought the goal was his, it meant so much. Only goals will do for a 28-year-old who has scored 154 uncontested strikes since joining in 2011, but who now is playing second fiddle to a marvellous teenager nine years his junior.

This was the third straight game that Aguero had started on the bench, overlooked again by Guardiola in favour of Jesus, whose three goals in three previous starts have won over City’s manager.  

City boss Guardiola looked deep in thought as he sat in the away dugout during the warm-ups at the Vitality Stadium City boss Guardiola looked deep in thought as he sat in the away dugout during the warm-ups at the Vitality Stadium

City boss Guardiola looked deep in thought as he sat in the away dugout during the warm-ups at the Vitality Stadium

He was later joined by Sergio Aguero, who had to make do with a starting place in the bench for the third straight game He was later joined by Sergio Aguero, who had to make do with a starting place in the bench for the third straight game

He was later joined by Sergio Aguero, who had to make do with a starting place in the bench for the third straight game

Aguero's benching has made way for Gabriel Jesus to start, with City fans already holding the striker in high esteem Aguero's benching has made way for Gabriel Jesus to start, with City fans already holding the striker in high esteem

Aguero's benching has made way for Gabriel Jesus to start, with City fans already holding the striker in high esteem

Bournemouth's Charlie Daniels was clearly up for the contest as he let out a roar on his way onto the playing surface Bournemouth's Charlie Daniels was clearly up for the contest as he let out a roar on his way onto the playing surface

Bournemouth's Charlie Daniels was clearly up for the contest as he let out a roar on his way onto the playing surface

Manchester City captain David Silva plays a pass through midfield while under pressure from Bournemouth's Jack Wilshere Manchester City captain David Silva plays a pass through midfield while under pressure from Bournemouth's Jack Wilshere

Manchester City captain David Silva plays a pass through midfield while under pressure from Bournemouth's Jack Wilshere

Guardiola issues instructions to young German winner Leroy Sane during the opening minutes of the Premier League game Guardiola issues instructions to young German winner Leroy Sane during the opening minutes of the Premier League game

Guardiola issues instructions to young German winner Leroy Sane during the opening minutes of the Premier League game

The prodigy’s selection was a damning, tantalising piece of team news, raising once more the thought that Aguero will look elsewhere for employment in the summer. Guardiola fears as much because players that good do not sit on benches.

But if he does go, it will not be without a fight. He showed that much here when he came on after Jesus’s ankle injury on 15 minutes and set about taking on the world, an old dog going to battle with the new one on his territory.

For Guardiola, it might just be an internal struggle with a great external benefit – one of the most established strikers in the world going up against one of the most hyped, each pushing the other higher and bringing City with them.

In this case it meant the club climbing from fifth to second, just eight points off Chelsea. A good night’s work, indeed, against a side that frequently looked capable of causing damage, particularly with their counter-attacks.  

Yaya Toure was outraged to be shown a yellow card by Neil Swarbrick for a late tackle on Bournemouth's Adam Smith

The departure of Jesus after just 14 minutes of the game meant Aguero was handed an early chance to prove his point

Goalkeeper Willy Caballero had to come flying out to beat Jordon Ibe to the ball as the former Liverpool man broke through Goalkeeper Willy Caballero had to come flying out to beat Jordon Ibe to the ball as the former Liverpool man broke through

Goalkeeper Willy Caballero had to come flying out to beat Jordon Ibe to the ball as the former Liverpool man broke through

At the other end, Polish goalkeeper Artur Boruc did superbly well to deflect Sterling's effort onto his left-hand post At the other end, Polish goalkeeper Artur Boruc did superbly well to deflect Sterling's effort onto his left-hand post

At the other end, Polish goalkeeper Artur Boruc did superbly well to deflect Sterling's effort onto his left-hand post

That is why this will hurt Bournemouth and Eddie Howe. They were only fine margins away but instead have extended their winless run to six league games. Now they have to worry about what lies beneath.

Howe’s attempt to stop the bleeding amounted to three changes to the side that was slapped for six by Everton last time out, with Charlie Daniels, Adam Smith and Jordan Ibe came in. It was probably the strongest XI Howe had available.

Guardiola’s sole alteration to the side that edged out Swansea was to bring in Bacary Sagna for Gael Clichy. A trifling matter, really, when so much more interest was centred on the changes the manager did not make.

The Aguero scenario is plainly the issue that will rumble on but it was also interesting to see Claudio Bravo spend a fourth straight game on the bench.  

Toure came close for Manchester City as he fired a trademark long-range effort inches wide from just outside the box Toure came close for Manchester City as he fired a trademark long-range effort inches wide from just outside the box

Toure came close for Manchester City as he fired a trademark long-range effort inches wide from just outside the box

They were not to be denied for long, though, as Sterling converted David Silva's cross at the back post to put City ahead

Sterling celebrates with Sane and Kevin De Bruyne after his goal put Manchester City into the lead on the south coast Sterling celebrates with Sane and Kevin De Bruyne after his goal put Manchester City into the lead on the south coast

Sterling celebrates with Sane and Kevin De Bruyne after his goal put Manchester City into the lead on the south coast

Josh King thought he had brought Bournemouth level within a minute, but it was ruled out for a pull on John Stones Josh King thought he had brought Bournemouth level within a minute, but it was ruled out for a pull on John Stones

Josh King thought he had brought Bournemouth level within a minute, but it was ruled out for a pull on John Stones

Guardiola clearly did not want to risk using him and that, bluntly, is what Bravo has become – a gamble, a challenge to all sensible interpretations of his statistics. Guardiola frequently argues the opposite, but it is far more telling that the goalkeeper has not had a sniff since the 2-2 draw against Tottenham on January 21. That game contributed to his sorry record of 16 goals shipped from 24 shots, with no saves made since January 2. Astonishing numbers.

In his place, and that of Joe Hart, Willy Caballero stepped up again, having conceded just once in the previous three games.

In this one, it took 19 minutes for him to make the sort of impact that can change games, with an early block from Jordan Ibe as he went clean through. Late on there was also a flying save to stop Harry Arter. Both were vitally important; both demonstrated the kind of goalkeeping reliability that has often been lacking this season. With it in place, City had licence to thrill.  

Bournemouth suffered an injury problem of their own as Wilshere trudged off with just a few minutes left of the opening half Bournemouth suffered an injury problem of their own as Wilshere trudged off with just a few minutes left of the opening half

Bournemouth suffered an injury problem of their own as Wilshere trudged off with just a few minutes left of the opening half

Aguero and Adam Smith battle for possession at the start of the second period, with the Argentine coming out on top Aguero and Adam Smith battle for possession at the start of the second period, with the Argentine coming out on top

Aguero and Adam Smith battle for possession at the start of the second period, with the Argentine coming out on top

Managers Eddie Howe and Pep Guardiola give their instructions from the touchline, with the score still at 1-0 after the break Managers Eddie Howe and Pep Guardiola give their instructions from the touchline, with the score still at 1-0 after the break

Managers Eddie Howe and Pep Guardiola give their instructions from the touchline, with the score still at 1-0 after the break

The second goal came at a crucial time, as Aguero prodded Sterling's super cut-back towards goal with the help of Mings The second goal came at a crucial time, as Aguero prodded Sterling's super cut-back towards goal with the help of Mings

The second goal came at a crucial time, as Aguero prodded Sterling's super cut-back towards goal with the help of Mings

Even though there were doubts over whether the goal was his, Aguero let out a wild roar as it hit the back of the net Even though there were doubts over whether the goal was his, Aguero let out a wild roar as it hit the back of the net

Even though there were doubts over whether the goal was his, Aguero let out a wild roar as it hit the back of the net

They created a blitz of chances before Sterling’s opener on 29 minutes, when Leroy Sane’s pass was deflected into the path of Sterling’s run to the back post. His sixth league goal of a fine season followed.

Josh King had the ball in City’s net almost immediately afterwards, only to be correctly penalised for a gentle tug on Stones’s shirt in the build-up. That caused a little anger and the anger gave way to concern when Jack Wilshere went down holding his ankle after a block on David Silva. The challenge was brilliantly timed; the sight of him suffering for his art all-too-familiar. He didn’t see out the half.

Bournemouth surged in the second but it was for nothing when Sterling crossed to the near post and Aguero met it with a finish. Almost a poetic moment, but for the wider realisation during the madness of his celebrations that Mings had the final touch.

Guardiola managed a smile. What an enjoyable headache this could be. 

Sterling exits in stoppage time as he is replaced by Nolito, following another impressive display against Bournemouth Sterling exits in stoppage time as he is replaced by Nolito, following another impressive display against Bournemouth

Sterling exits in stoppage time as he is replaced by Nolito, following another impressive display against Bournemouth

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