Cherries give City slickers run for their money
- Lee Mason
First-half goals from David Silva and Gabriel Jesus may have earned Manchester City victory against AFC Bournemouth – but it did not tell the whole story.
Eddie Howe’s team gave the recently-deposed Premier League champions a run for their money at the Etihad Stadium with David Brooks’s late goal setting up a grandstand finish.
And as the visitors pushed for the equaliser their endeavours had deserved, Pep Guardiola's men were hanging on at the death.
Despite falling behind to David Silva’s exquisite freekick in the sixth minute, the Cherries rallied, showing grit and determination in search of an equaliser.
Junior Stanislas’s free-kick was superbly saved by City goalkeeper Ederson and only a last-ditch block by Nicolas Otamendi prevented Dominic Solanke levelling.
But City’s ruthlessness came to the fore when Gabriel Jesus doubled their lead with a finely-taken individual effort six minutes before the interval.
The Cherries' misfortune in front of goal continued when a 59th-minute effort from Joshua King was ruled out due to a hairline offside decision which was confirmed by VAR.
VAR again intervened after referee Lee Mason had awarded City a penalty for a foul by Steve Cook on Jesus in the 72nd minute, the decision overturned.
Steve Cook, Stanislas, Philip Billing and King returned to the Cherries starting line-up as boss Eddie Howe made four changes following the 4-1 win over Leicester on Sunday.
Defender Cook reclaimed the captain’s armband from Nathan Ake, who was ruled out after sustaining a thigh injury making a crucial block against the Foxes.
David Brooks, Arnaut Danjuma and Callum Wilson, who all started on Sunday, were named among the Cherries substitutes.
City boss Pep Guardiola, whose team is guaranteed to finish as runners-up to Liverpool in the Premier League, had big guns Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling on his bench.
Ederson saved comfortably after Dan Gosling had met Diego Rico’s cross with a tame header before the City goalkeeper’s excellent distribution started a counter-attack which came to nothing.
Jefferson Lerma was deemed to have fouled David Silva on the edge of the box, giving the City dead-ball specialist a chance to take aim in the early stages.
And he made no mistake, the City captain curling an unstoppable left-foot effort past the despairing dive of Ramsdale and into the top corner of the net to make it 1-0.
Fernandinho went close to adding a quick second when his rasping drive from 30 yards flashed past the post.
Lloyd Kelly received a yellow card for hauling back Gabriel Jesus as City looked to mount another attack before Solanke’s shot was blocked as the Cherries countered.
A flurry of pressure from the visitors midway through the first half ended with King turning sharply in the box and firing narrowly wide of Ederson’s right-hand upright.
Phil Foden lifted a shot high over the crossbar before Jack Stacey’s dangerous cross was cleared only as far as Rico whose low drive was blocked by a City defender.
A top-drawer save denied the Cherries an equaliser when Ederson scurried across his line to push Stanislas’s superb free-kick from distance on to the post after 33 minutes.
And as Howe’s team again forced the issue, King glanced wide from a Gosling centre before the same two players combined to create a chance for Solanke, which was blocked by Otamendi.
Billing headed over from close range after Rico had delivered the resultant corner, only for City to add a second goal following a sustained spell of pressure from the visitors.
Jesus, fed the ball by David Silva, showed excellent close control inside the 18-yard box, clipping the ball through Stacey’s legs before finding the bottom corner with an angled right-foot drive.
Sterling and Eric Garcia replaced Bernardo Silva and Kyle Walker as City boss Guardiola made two changes at the break.
Although the hosts enjoyed plenty of possession during the early stages of the second period, the Cherries defended resolutely and kept them away from Ramsdale’s goal.
A swift break in the 59th minute ended with King tapping the ball home from close range following great work by Stanislas, only for it to be ruled out for offside after a VAR review.
Although replays showed the assistant referee’s initial decision was correct, the margin of the offside was probably the length of King’s toe nail.
The Cherries fashioned another chance midway through the second period when Stanislas’ cross was cleared by Ederson only as far as Gosling whose effort was deflected for a corner by Ilkay Gundogan.
A triple substitution by Howe saw Callum Wilson, David Brooks and Lewis Cook replace Solanke, Gosling and Stanislas in the 69th minute.
City thought they had won a penalty when Jesus went to ground under a Cook challenge in the 72nd minute.
But although referee Lee Mason immediately pointed to the spot, his decision was overturned, with VAR deeming Cook had made a clean tackle.
Callum Wilson dragged his shot inches wide of the target after latching on to a cross from Brooks before Ramsdale spread himself to thwart Foden six minutes from time.
A penalty appeal fell on deaf ears after the ball appeared to have struck Rodri's hand in the closing stages before the Cherries halved the arrears through Brooks two minutes from time.
The former Manchester City youngster swept home Callum Wilson's cross to set up a grandstand finale.
And Callum Wilson prodded a chance narrowly wide just seconds later as the Cherries pushed for a late leveller, seconds later another opening almost falling to substitute Sam Surridge, who reached to prod home but was thwarted by Ederson.
A Kelly long throw was the away side's final chance, but despite a flick on into the danger zone, City cleared their lines and the referee's final whistle confirmed their slenderest of wins.