Match Coverage

Bournemouth 0-4 City: match report

1,330 Manchester City fans were in attendance to witness the return of their strawberry-blonde prince at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Wielding that whip of a right foot and that mind of his that wanders around the back of rival defences, the man whom we’ve missed so dearly over these last two harrowing months ensured City would slay Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth on our return to the battlefield of Premier League football. This irresistible 4-0 victory was all about Kevin De Bruyne. 

Bournemouth have been breathing fire recently. Three wins from their last four coming into this game has all but thrust them out of the relegation battle that is now being fought between Norwich, Sunderland and Newcastle United. That, coupled with the fact that we’ve been particularly atrocious in the last four weeks, was the reason why I expected nothing from this game. A display of this kind – vibrant and brimming with enthusiasm – was only expected from one side, and it wasn’t City. 

David and Sergio have been the high profile casualties of a pretty wretched March. Both seem to have lost faith in the manager’s approach and perhaps even the ability of their teammates. While David has been hobbling indiscriminately on an ankle that clearly still isn’t right, Sergio has been running into dead ends, taking it upon himself to produce a moment of magic. What we all learned on Saturday afternoon was that they’ve been missing their puppet master.

De Bruyne oozes confidence. Like a Victoria Secret model, swinging his hips from side to side, wagging his finger and pouting his lips, the Belgian strut back into action after a two-month lay-off, the Vitality Stadium his catwalk. Five minutes into this fixture and the quick, one touch passing between himself, David and Sergio took us back to a time much earlier in the season when it looked like we were never going to lose a game. With De Bruyne puppeteering from the middle, dangling Sergio into spaces behind the defence and pulling David in from the left, City made fast work of tearing Howe’s team apart. 

The opener, scored in the 7th minute, came from an unlikely source; Fernando sending a caressed volley past Artur Boruc. We were playing some of the best stuff I’ve seen from us since August, but there was still that huge sigh of relief when the ball hit the back of net. You felt that an early goal would be incredibly important for us in this one and it encouraged even more brilliance from De Bruyne, Agüero and Silva who combined to score a definite goal of the season contender just four minutes later.

Capitalising on some sloppy play from Charlie Daniels, Silva laid off Agüero who scooped the ball over Bournemouth’s defence and back into the Spaniard’s path. The touch into De Bruyne was sublime, and the 24-year-old’s volleyed finish was even better. This three-touch move was nothing short of world class. Manchester City on steroids, or just Manchester City playing the football they should be. 

Visibly enjoying having Kevin back, Sergio seemed to regain the spring that has been missing from his game recently and even Silva tried his hand at a few long range efforts from outside the box. It was school-yard stuff from the trio, but City’s fourth attacker Navas wanted in, and in the 16th minute he sent a terrific cross from the by-line onto Sergio’s head and it was three. 

Things had gone to plan. The job had been done with 75 minutes of football left to play and with very little danger of an extraordinary Bournemouth comeback, the side could now focus their attentions on Paris Saint-Germain who, armed with the imperious Zlatan Ibrahimović who netted a hat-trick against Nice this weekend, will pose a much bigger threat to us on Wednesday. 

A first half of complete domination – bar one nervy moment when Daniels was denied from close range by an excellent save from Caballero – allowed time for another significant return. A thigh injury had kept the Samir Nasri out of action for five months, and so it was great to see the Frenchman back on the pitch yesterday. Things seem to be falling into place at the right time for us and there’s no doubt that Nasri’s return will help our chances of securing a Champions League spot. 

And there was time for even more jubiliation (we’ve needed it!). Weaving his way through an exhausted Bournemouth defence in stoppage time, Aleksandar Kolarov unleashed a scorcher into the top corner to make it four, capping off a thoroughly refreshing team performance. 

“Kevin was a very important player for our team before and I think he returned today in a very good shape,” Pellegrini said after the game in his typically understated manner.

“I did not want him to play more than 55 minutes, but I hope that from now until the end of the season he will continue with the same performances we are used to.”

We’ll need some of Kevin’s inspiration in Paris on Wednesday when we play arguably the most in-form team in Europe. 

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