Raheem Sterling's 9/10 performance helps Man City overcome Bournemouth
MANCHESTER, England -- Manchester City moved five points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 3-1 victory over Bournemouth on Saturday, but it was far from a comfortable afternoon. Callum Wilson's emphatic header levelled Bernardo Silva's 16th-minute opener as the visitors threatened to cause a surprise, but Raheem Sterling led City to a much-improved second-half performance and he put them back ahead after 57 minutes before Ilkay Gundogan's late third.
As brilliant as they have been all season, City can't expect to have it their own way every week. Bournemouth came with a plan and were well organised and a threat on the counterattack. The equaliser gave them confidence that they could leave the Etihad Stadium with a result, but Pep Guardiola's side found a way of getting the job done in comfortably their trickiest Premier League match at home this season.
City were flat and uninspired in the first half, and it was no surprise when they conceded an equaliser a minute before the break. Their biggest threat, particularly at home, is complacency, and it was too easy for them to take the lead when Silva scored from their only shot on target.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Guardiola made five changes from the side that drew 2-2 with Lyon in midweek, and his side strangely lacked cohesion in a disjointed first-half performance. Sergio Aguero's absence was forced through injury, but City's youthful attack lacked experience, particularly the guidance of David Silva. He stuck with his side at the start of the second half when it would have been much easier to make a couple of changes and, his side responded with a much more fluent display.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Ederson, 6 -- No chance with Bournemouth's goal and had little else to do. His footwork, as ever, was neat and tidy.
DF Danilo, 6 -- Making his first Premier League start after a couple of injury setbacks. Struggled against the pace of the visitors, who were keen to play in balls behind him, but he got forward well.
DF Nicolas Otamendi, 6 -- Lost Wilson for his goal at the end of the first half. A costly error when City have been setting such high standards defensively this season, but it was his only slight mistake.
DF Aymeric Laporte,7 -- Another strong performance from the reliable defender who kept Josh King quiet and played some impeccable passes out of defence.
DF Oleksandr Zinchenko, 6 -- Retained his place at left-back ahead of Fabian Delph and was an extra threat going forward, sending over a couple of wicked crosses. But he can be guilty of switching off defensively, and was too slow to stop Simon Francis's cross for the equaliser.
MF Fernandinho, 7 -- With Bournemouth prepared to flood the midfield, the Brazilian was under pressure to stop the counter-attacks. There were no real missteps after his difficult evening against Lyon in midweek.
MF Ilkay Gundogan, 6 -- Looked slightly off the pace in the first half but grew into the game and became more influential, scoring the goal that killed off the clash.
MF Bernardo Silva 6 -- He was alert to fire open the loose ball for City's opener but his passing was unusually wayward, too often gifting the visitors the ball back.
FW Raheem Sterling, 9 -- A mature attacking performance where he had Charlie Daniels tied in knots with his close skill and dribbling. He made no mistake when the ball fell to him for the crucial second goal as he extended his record of scoring in six consecutive games against Eddie Howe's side.
FW Gabriel Jesus, 5 -- Found it difficult to find room up against three central defenders and barely saw a sight of goal. He went close with one flicked header, but his tough time continues.
FW Leroy Sane, 8 -- Terrorised Steve Cook with his pace and ability to run in behind the Cherries defender. It led to the opening goal and he was always looking to create more.
DF Fabian Delph 6, -- Much more dynamic when he came on for Zinchenko, who suffered a bloody nose.
MF David Silva, N/R -- Offered some control when he came on.
FW Riyad Mahrez, N/R -- A late change.