Goals from Raheem Sterling and substitute Sergio Agüero – via a Tyrone Mings deflection – gave Manchester City a hard-fought win that puts them second in the table, eight points behind Chelsea
That’s your lot. Three wins in a row for City, who climb to second in the table. They were made to work hard by Bournemouth in a bruising encounter but a little extra class, plus goals from Raheem Sterling and substitute Sergio Agüero (via Tyrone Mings) made the difference. Bournemouth stay six points off the bottom three, but if they play like that every week, will not be in any danger of going down. Thanks for joining me. Bye!
93 mins: One more attack from City, with De Bruyne unlocking the home defence and setting Sané free down the right. His shot from a tight angle fizzes wide of the far post.
92 mins: Nolito, who has rather fallen down the pecking order, replaces Sterling for the final minute.
91 mins: De Bruyne lifts a long ball into Sané’s path, but Cook does well to hold him up, and his cross to Agüero is dealt with by Arter.
90 mins: Three added minutes. City just need to keep their focus for the full 98.
89 mins: Smith sneaks a late round in his bout with Sané, stripping the winger of the ball.
88 mins: Sterling is named man of the match, which is entirely fair.
86 mins: Kolarov, who has been wandering upfield from left-back since Otamendi came on, stings Boruc’s palms with a volley from 25 yards. It rebounds to Sané, who’s offside.
85 mins: Bournemouth battling to keep the scoreline respectful now, with Cook racing back 30 yards to keep Aguero and Sterling at bay.
83 mins: …it’s worked left to Sterling, whose cross falls to Sané. He skips beyond his marker, then almost snaps the crossbar with a thunderous strike! Spectacular, but he probably should have scored.
82 mins: Silva and De Bruyne exchange passes in midfield, the visitors suddenly in total control…
80 mins: Silva, starting to flourish in his deeper midfield role, shimmies before slotting a disguised pass to Sané – but his long ball to Sterling clatters into the first man.
79 mins: Steve Cook’s long throw in is cleared away, but he gets another chance and Mings flicks on. Caballero, who has done well when required, comes out to collect.
77 mins: Sané and Smith tussle down the left again, with the Bournemouth full back conceding a soft free kick. De Bruyne swings it in to Fernandinho at the far post, but his header is a long way off target.
76 mins: Jordon Ibe goes off, replaced by Pugh. Ibe was very good in spells, which is a familiar story.
“A member of the Bournemouth coaching staff just walked halfway round the pitch to instruct a ball-boy to sit 10 yards higher up” says Christopher Vaughan. “Is there some tactical element to ball-boy placement no one told me about?”
I reckon Eddie Howe is just trying to impress Guardiola.
75 mins: Arter and Daniels combine before Fraser, by the corner flag on the left is closed down by Sterling. He’s been everywhere tonight. Nicolas Otamendi is on for City, in place of Yay Touré.
72 mins: The Dubious Goals Panel will have their say in due course, but what we can say for sure is that goal was crucial for Manchester City, who have killed a game that was very much up for grabs.
Sterling switches to the left, turns poor Adam Smith inside out, and then back the right way round, barrels to the byline and crosses for Agüero, who prods towards the far post. It immediately deflects off Mings and into the net. It’s mighty tough to tell if that first shot was going in, but the trusty narrative demands that it’s Agüero’s goal, for now.
City make it two-nil, and it’s Sergio Agüero (probably) who turns in Raheem Sterling’s cross!
68 mins: There’s been plenty of needle so far, with Arter the fifth player to be booked for a foul on Agüero.
66 mins: Sane’s through ball has Smith scurrying to get back ahead of Aguero, but he does so, switches the ball left, and Afobe is sent clear. He pulls the ball back to Arter, who draws a smart save from Caballero at his near post!
65 mins: The free kick leads to a spell of pwopa nawty head tennis, before the ball is hauled back in towards King. The assistant spots that he’s three yards offside, and gets called a cee by the home fans for his trouble.
63 mins: Smith and Sané’s running battle relocates to the City half, with Sané penalised for clipping the right back’s heel as he cuts inside. Yellow card, joining Touré and Sterling in the book.
61 mins: “Sergio, Sergio” sing the travelling fans. Does Gabriel Jesus have a chant yet? Is it to the tune of this – and if not, why not?
60 mins: Afobe is flagged offside as Bournemouth look to regain their early momentum.
59 mins: Lovely stuff from City, controlling the tempo before Fernandinho slots a diagonal ball to Silva on the left. It’s cleared behind, and from the corner, Fernandinho tests Cook down the left again. Once again, he’s up to the job.
57 mins: Agüero and Silva link up before the latter slides a pass to Sané, who cuts inside, then back outside, allowing Smith to win the ball back. Sterling is booked for kicking out at King before that last Bournemouth breakaway.
56 mins: Sagna presents the ball to King deep in Bournemouth’s half and the hosts break at speed, but Fraser is eventually jostled off the ball by a clutch of City defenders.
54 mins: De Bruyne, stepping forward from midfield, latches on to Sané’s through ball and forces Arter into a smart block, with Sterling waiting at the far post.
53 mins: Agüero does find a pocket of space, but after cutting inside, he sees his shot from 20 yards blocked by Cook.
52 mins: Agüero has struggled to get into the game, finding himself in the wrong places and failing to hold the ball up when Silva and De Bruyne do pick him out.
51 mins: Sterling gets to a loose ball ahead of Fraser, and earns a pressure-releasing free kick. Winning those kind of balls has been a hallmark of their recent revival.
50 mins: Stones looked shaky at times in the first half but makes an exceptional challenge here, timing his slide tackle on King, who had barrelled into the penalty area, perfectly. Bournemouth starting the second half strongly…
49 mins: Afobe gets the better of Fernandinho again, earning a free kick on the right which Caballero punches away. All things considered, maybe Fernandinho should be moved back into midfield, and soon.
48 mins: Ibe finds space on the right, and gets beyond Fernandinho, twisting all the way to the byline – but his cross is scrambled away with Afobe waiting.
46 mins: Touré is penalised for a trip on Afobe, but avoids picking up a second yellow card. He’s on thin ice, is Yaya.
We’re back under way.
We had five minutes of injury time in the first half, so Guardiola’s 95 minutes prediction may be some way off. On that matter, here’s Robin Hughes:
“The amount of additional time given by English refs has been pretty solid at 6 mins for the last few years. So it turns out that managers preparing for ‘a tough 95 minutes’ are actually guilty of rank negligence, and their teams are open to the kill for at least one minute per match.”
“I like Mark Thomas’s mime analysis of card-waving” says Justin Kavanagh. “Surely it’s only a matter of time before a goalkeeper — outraged with the non-effectiveness of his defenders at a free-kick — runs out to the ref’s foam line and does that sad-faced, flat-handed impression of a solid wall.”
This sort of stuff is more my level:
“My wife would like you to confirm that Jesus was chasing a cross when he was injured” – Phil Gray.
If Sané dived, it’s a case of bad playacting – a ham Sané if you will @niallmcveigh
I’m spending the half-time break chuckling at your Adam Smith gags, with references to the famous economist’s oeuvre, which I am of course totally familiar with, and did not have to Google.
“Perhaps ‘The Wealth of Nations’ would be better used as to describe City’s transfer kitty. Or, perhaps, ‘The Delph of Nations’! I’ll see myself out.” Thanks, Woolie Madden.
An all action first-half with plenty of chances, a disallowed Josh King goal, three players off with injuries and Raheem Sterling’s seventh career goal against Bournemouth. City lead, but it’s been far from comfortable.
48 mins: Sané has haunted Adam Smith throughout the first half, and again sends the right-back spinning before stepping over a prone Harry Arter, and going down in the area. No penalty, and Sané is lucky to escape without a booking for a blatant dive.
47 mins: Wilshere, who seemed to pick up a knock closing down Silva, is going off. He’s replaced by Benik Afobe, who may fancy his chances against Stones and Kolarov.
45 mins: Silva, as magical as ever in midfield so far, controls the ball beautifully and tees up De Bruyne for a long shot that just doesn’t dip in time. There will be FIVE added minutes, so don’t go anywhere.
43 mins: Sané takes down a long diagonal ball with his chest, then switches play to the right, where Sagna streaks forward and crosses. It’s flicked on towards Fernandinho, who twists and turns, but can’t find a shooting angle.
41 mins: Fraser causes more bother down the left, befuddling Stones and forcing Kolarov to clear behind. Arter and Fraser work it short, setting up an angle for Fraser, who balloons his cross out of play.
39 mins: Corner for City, which Silva whips in. Touré steps in to strip Smith of the ball, before Sterling forces another as his cross is blocked. From the second corner, Sterling flays a shot high and wide.
37 mins: More grumbling from the home fans, but it’s justified this time, as the assistant misses Agüero straying offside. He’s relieved to see the striker pump his shot into the English Channel.
36 mins: King almost latches onto a lofted cross, with Touré slow to react. The Ivorian is having one of his more casual nights so far, much to Guardiola’s chagrin.
@niallmcveigh Card waving is really a form of mime. Of which the British are rightfully suspicious.
34 mins: A lull after that salvo of chances, with Bournemouth fans giving Swarbrick a roasting. Wait until you’ve seen a replay, guys.
32 mins: Silva gets into space and finds Aguero, who draws a save from Boruc. This game is being played at breakneck speed, and Bournemouth have found gaps in the City defence.
DISALLOWED! Seconds later, Josh King bursts onto an Ibe through ball and fires past Caballero – but Swarbrick gives a free kick! He’s not offside (Kolarov was carelessly playing him on) but is penalised for pulling Stones back. Excellent spot from the referee, there.
Bournemouth concede in midfield, Silva slides a pass to Sané, who looks for Sterling at the far post. Cook gets a boot to it again, but only flicks the ball into Sterling’s path, who blasts into the top corner.
27 mins: The resulting corner is half-cleared away, and Touré fizzes a shot inches wide from 25 yards. City getting closer…
26 mins: Sterling hits the post! Sané’s trickery sends Smith skidding over, and he has time to pick out Sterling, whose shot is somehow deflected by Cook onto the upright! It rebounds to de Bruyne, but his shot is deflected behind.
25 mins: King’s cut back towards Wilshere is foiled by City defenders charging out to block, before Fraser is booked for a studs-up challenge on De Bruyne. He claims to have got the ball; replays confirm that he did not.
22 mins: Charlie Daniels does well to wrestle Sterling off the ball, and the winger is penalised. No harm done, but Arter insists on giving the assistant an earful, for some reason.
21 mins: Simon Francis is down, another casualty of a bruising first 20 minutes. Tyrone Mings replaces him in central defence.
Unless I’ve missed it, Bournemouth fans haven’t booed Sterling, yet. Five ‘good lad’ points to them.
“Not sure what the difference is between Wilshere giving it large to the ref to book Yaya, and waving an imaginary card” says Paul Ruffley.
Card-waving is one of those things that’s just a bit too foreign for British audiences, like bendy bananas, or wine.
19 mins: Big chance for Bournemouth, as Jordon Ibe plays a quick one-two with Wilshere, and breaks free of the City back line – but Caballero does brilliantly to extend a leg and prod the ball clear!
17 mins: Fraser, a fantastic old-fashioned winger, twists Sagna’s blood and plays a pass to King, who can’t find room to get a shot away.
Sergio Agüero is on up front, with a point to prove. It’s almost as if Guardiola knows what he’s doing.
13 mins: Jesus is very slow to get up – he picked up an injury chasing that cross from Sterling a few minutes ago. He’s coming off, and you know what that means…
12 mins: “One of the best throw-ins I’ve seen all season” parps Niall Quinn, as Fernandinho finds Silva in space. Jesus gets beyond Steve Cook, who pulls him down when Swarbrick isn’t looking.
10 mins: Touré is into the book dangerously early, bringing down Adam Smith in midfield.
9 mins: Cracks appearing in the Bournemouth defence: first, Sterling almost picks out Jesus from the right, but Cook clears away smartly. Moments later, Sterling brings down a crafty diagonal ball from Fernandinho. Boruc collects it, luckily for the assistant, as Sterling was offside.
8 mins: Touré’s long pass is instinctively flicked on by Jesus to Sterling, whose cross-shot is cleared behind. The corner doesn’t amount to much.
6 mins: Arter has been busy in central midfield, and bursts beyond Yaya Touré – but he was being held up by Fraser, and Neil Swarbrick gives the free kick.
4 mins: Bournemouth have a first glimpse of goal, Arter’s snap shot thudding off Kolarov’s bonce and away from danger. Kolarov, previously a left back, is at centre-back, with Fernandinho, a midfielder, at left back.
2 mins: Silva and Sané combine again, but Adam Smith gets across to clear the ball for a throw-in, from which Silva’s cut back finds De Bruyne, who scuffs his shot from a promising position.
1 min: Touré’s ball forward is deftly flicked forward by Silva, into Sané’s path down the left – but his cross is miscued.
Here we go. How long until the first lingering shot of Agüero on the bench?
The state of this:
Paul Kerton is nervous: “As a Chelsea fan I hope Bournemouth cream Man City, but I feel that Pep might be getting his zip back having found Jesus. A draw would be good for us, still 10pts clear, but fear that Bournemouth have lost their way a bit. Well, more than a bit actually.”
“Is it just me or has ‘It’s going to be a tough 95 minutes’ become the latest trendy pre-match soundbite to roll off football managers’ tongues?” asks Peter Oh. “Why do they assume that the ref will add five minutes of stoppage time?”
It’s a strange one – just saying ‘90 minutes’ wouldn’t imply they had left their team completely unprepared for injury time, so I’m not sure what the point is.
If you want even more on poor Sergio Agüero, here’s a lukewarm take from some chancer in today’s Fiver:
Related: The Fiver | A relentless Sensible Soccer sprite that can subsist on goals alone
Here’s Eddie Howe:
“[Jordon Ibe] has done really well off the bench… he’s been a positive for us in recent games. Tactically we’re going to have to be very good tonight, and impose our style on them. We’ve had some really big wins here, against some top teams, and we’ll draw on that for confidence.”
Here’s a little pre-match info from our man at the Vitality Stadium:
Manchester City rocked up 20 minutes late at the ground, but Pep Guardiola was soon signing autographs, while Leroy Sané and Gabriel Jesus headed straight inside. Sergio Agüero? He was last to trudge off the team bus and he looked like a player with a big, grey cloud over him.
Neville and Carragher have been discussing Agüero’s demotion at length, highlighting the striker’s struggles in pressing defenders. What’s odd to me is that Agüero seems only a couple of tweaks away from excelling in a typical Guardiola system. I shudder to think what he’d have done with Edin Dzeko.
Your thoughts on that, or any weekend highlights (seen this?) are welcome. Email email@example.com, tweet @niallmcveigh.
Pep Guardiola speaks!
On his front three: “They did really well the last three games. Their first pressure is so intensive, they can run in behind and they have the quality.”
Just one change for City, with Bacary Sagna replacing Gaël Clichy. Sagna, John Stones, Aleks Kolarov and Fernandinho make up the back four, although time will tell in what precise order. Sergio Agüero stays on the bench – not a massive shock, with Guardiola talking up Jesus, Sané and Sterling recently – as does Claudio Bravo.
For Bournemouth, Adam Smith replaces Tyrone Mings, Jordon Ibe gets a start in place of Marc Pugh, and Charlie Daniels is passed fit to return at left-back.
Bournemouth: Boruc; Adam Smith, Francis, Steve Cook,
Daniels; Arter, Surman, Fraser, Ibe, Wilshere; King.
Subs: Gosling, Pugh, Afobe, Brad Smith, Stanislas, Allsop, Mings.
Manchester City: Caballero; Fernandinho, Stones, Kolarov, Sagna; Touré, Silva, De Bruyne; Sterling, Jesus, Sané.
Subs: Bravo, Kompany, Fernando, Nolito, Agüero, Delph, Otamendi.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth are, to use the modern parlance, in a bad moment. From 3-0 up against Arsenal six weeks ago, a spectacular tumble has seen two points taken from five games, a dismal FA Cup exit and 19 goals conceded. The 6-3 shellacking at Everton was the ninth game in the last 12 where their defence has shipped at least three goals; a state of affairs that has left the Cherries dangling perilously above the relegation dogfight below.
On the face of it, there could hardly be worse opposition to strut into town tonight than Manchester City. Pep Guardiola’s side appear to have located their groove, led by the irrepressible attacking trident of Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sané and Raheem Sterling. City can climb from fifth to second with a win – a scenario that brings its own pressure, with their next league fixture not until 5 March.