Manchester City fans still living off the high from the dramatic title-clinching comeback against Aston Villa on the final day of last season will have rediscovered their equilibrium after watching their side stroll to victory over Bournemouth on their return to the Etihad.
Ilkay Gündogan, Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden ensured the second half was a procession for City. The performance will reassure any doubters that Pep Guardiola’s side will be the one to beat this season. They spent 90 dominant minutes controlling possession, picking their moments to end Bournemouth’s futile resistance.
After their opening-day win against Villa, promoted Bournemouth learned about the rigours of the Premier League. Within six minutes City had produced four dangerous corners and Jack Stacey was booked for a lunge on Riyad Mahrez. Bournemouth had arrived with the aim of soaking up as much pressure as possible on a scorching day in east Manchester, not that Scott Parker’s cardigan indicated the seasonal warmth.
Even if their manager was not feeling the heat, the Bournemouth defence were. Foden should have squared to Erling Haaland for a tap-in after inadvertently controlling a De Bruyne shot, but took aim from close range only to see the ball ricochet off Mark Travers.
City were in complete control. Bournemouth struggled to get out of their own half in the opening 15 minutes, instead setting up camp on the edge of the box. They were breached, inevitably, in the 19th minute when Haaland showed his quality by cushioning a pass with his back to goal while under pressure from two players marking him, before spinning and sending the ball through to Gündogan who drove the ball across Travers into the corner.
When City enjoy this much possession, it is always likely that De Bruyne will get to influence proceedings. He picked up the ball on the half-hour mark 30 yards from goal. Bournemouth afforded him space to run, allowing the Belgian to reach the edge of the area unchallenged. He stopped, took aim with the outside of his right boot, and picked out the bottom corner with precision.
De Bruyne then cut open the bewildered defence for Foden to score City’s third. His run was not tracked and he calmly slid his shot into the corner despite the goalkeeper’s best efforts.
Haaland and his City teammates are quickly learning about one another. As his goals at West Ham showed, they know the runs he will make and it was the same against Bournemouth. They put in early crosses for him to attack, and played defence-splitting passes for the Norwegian to latch on to.
The second half was less intense. City used it as the perfect preparation for their upcoming friendly against Barcelona by slowing the tempo, making numerous substitutions and having shots at goal from distance to keep the crowd interested in the sunshine.
There was a standing ovation for Haaland when he was replaced with 16 minutes to go after a fine home debut. He may not have scored but he showed what will bring to the team. Defences will become even more fearful of travelling to the Etihad in the knowledge City have added the Norwegian to an already lethal arsenal.
Jefferson Lerma turned a João Cancelo cross into his own goal to further widen the gulf between the two sides. Guardiola gave a debut to 17-year-old Rico Lewis late on. He was born more than five and a half years after the Cherries last picked up a point against the hosts. City have now won the past 12 meetings between these two sides and it could be a long time until Bournemouth end that record.
OWN GOAL! CITY HAVE FOUR!
79′ Manchester City 4-0 Bournemouth
Jefferson Lerma has put the ball into his own net! Cancelo’s powerful cross ricochets off the Colombian and into the back of the net. Game over for real now.
MAN CITY CHANGE
74′ Manchester City 3-0 Bournemouth
Manchester City make a change as Erling Haaland is replaced by Julian Alvarez. Despite not scoring today, the Norwegian has contributed with an assist.
TEAM STATS IN 70′
SECOND HALF BEGINS!
Manchester City 3-0 Bournemouth
Phil Foden has been replaced by Jack Grealish at the break for City.
HALF-TIME: MANCHESTER CITY 3-0 AFC BOURNEMOUTH
The whistle goes here after four minutes of stoppages, and City, as expected, are firmly in control here at the Etihad Stadium.
GOAL! Manchester City 3-0 Bournemouth
Another at the Etihad…
De Bruyne is at it again and he’s picked out Phil Foden with a smart pass. The England man scores to make it 3-0, and it’s just a matter of how many now.
31′ Manchester City 2-0 Bournemouth
Kevin De Bruyne has just scored a beauty at the Etihad.
He runs forward, looks to play in Haaland, but the forward runs off side. Instead he moves inside and finishes past Mark Travers with ease.
It’s going to be a long afternoon for the visitors.
19′ Manchester City 1-0 Bournemouth
That has been coming! Gundogan flicks the ball nicely with a backheel to lay it off for Haaland. The Norwegian then plays the give-and-go back to the German as he darts into the box, and Gundogan easily slots the ball past Mark Travers.
11′ Manchester City 0-0 Bournemouth
Best chance of the game so far for City. De Bruyne has a shot from distance which is blocked, but he manages to regain possession of the ball, and slides in Foden with a pass into the box.
The Englishman goes for goal himself despite having two men on his right hand side, but Travers saves, and City have a corner. Haaland looked frustrated there with Foden’s decision.
ANOTHER EFFORT FOR CITY!
9′ Manchester City 0-0 Bournemouth
Another City corner is wasted as Mahrez’s effort is too high. The pressure is building!
CITY IN CONTROL
8′ Manchester City 0-0 Bournemouth
So far, so good for City. They have had 66% possession in the opening exchanges and had four attempts on goal.
6′ Manchester City 0-0 Bournemouth
Jack Stacey is shown an early yellow card for Bournemouth. He brings down Mahrez mid-run and that will be a free kick to the Citizens.
ANOTHER CITY CORNER HEADED WIDE!
5′ Manchester City 0-0 Bournemouth
City are dominating here, as one would expect. They win another corner, this time on the right, but Dias can only send his header wide of the post.
CITY START WELL
2′ Manchester City 0-0 Bournemouth
The home side are on top here. They win a corner, but Ake can only head wide.
We are underway here at the Etihad Stadium.
NOT LONG TO GO!
Man City XI: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Ake, Cancelo, Rodrigo, De Bruyne, Gundogan (C), Mahrez, Haaland, Foden
SUBS | Ortega Moreno, Stones, Grealish, Alvarez, Bernardo, Delap, Mbete, Lewis, Wilson-Esbrand
Bournemouth XI: Travers, Cook, Kelly (c), Mepham, Lerma, Christie, Smith, Tavernier, Stacey, Moore, Pearson
SUBS | Neto, Marcondes, Lowe, Stanislas, Siriki, Hill, Senesi, Billing, Anthony
Will Haaland find the net again today?
Erling Haaland’s City career got off to the perfect start last time out against West Ham, as the striker scored a brace on his Premier League debut courtesy of a penalty, followed up with a calm finish later on, after latching onto a Kevin De Bruyne through ball.
Confidence will be high, and the Norwegian will be looking to find the net again today.
Parker still awaiting first point against City as a manager
Could it be fifth time lucky for Scott Parker? Bournemouth’s manager has lost all four of his meetings against City (whilst in charge of Fulham), so he will be looking for his first scalp.
As for Bournemouth, the Cherries ended last season in the Championship unbeaten in four successive away games.
City Have 100% winning record over Cherries in Premier League
As the headline states, Manchester City have won all eleven top flight meetings with Bournemouth over the years, scoring four or more goals on four separate occasions.
It is not understated just how much of a touch test this will be for Scott Parker’s side today.