English Premiership

Sterling rises to occasion, keeps City in title mix

2017-02-14 07:21
Raheem Sterling (Getty Images)

Bournemouth - Goals from Raheem Sterling and an own goal from Tyrone Mings gave Manchester City a 2-0 win against Bournemouth and lifted them from sixth to second place in the Premier League on a blustery Monday night at the Vitality Stadium.

Pep Guardiola's side closed the gap on Chelsea to eight points and kept alive their hopes of the title, despite their Spanish manager ruling out the possibility following his team's 4-0 defeat at Everton last month.

But three league wins in a row have reignited City's season with FA Cup and Champions League games to come in the next eight days as Sergio Aguero issued a timely reminder of his attacking prowess after coming on as an early substitute for the injured Gabriel Jesus.

"We made a real performance. I am so pleased with how we did and especially the last 10-15 minutes, we did the right way to make the result with a thousand million passes," Guardiola told the BBC.

He said they would only know the extent of Jesus' injury on Tuesday.

"Hopefully it won't be for a long time, I will pray tonight, we will have to wait until tomorrow," said the 46-year-old, who refused to accept the title was still on as the gap to Chelsea he said was still 'massive'.

Bournemouth were yet to win a game in 2017 and despite suffering a third consecutive league defeat, they more than played their part in a close-fought contest.

But City fans hoping to see Jesus add to his scintillating start for the club were disappointed as the Brazilian lasted only 14 minutes before being replaced by Aguero after turning his ankle.

It gave Aguero an opportunity to show some form amidst speculation he could be regarded as surplus to requirements with the arrival of Jesus.

The first real chance went to Bournemouth after 19 minutes.

A swift one-two between Jack Wilshere and Jordon Ibe saw the latter through on goal but goalkeeper Willy Caballero smothered the ball with his legs.

Bournemouth then suffered a blow when their captain, Simon Francis, who had been doubtful for the match, left the field to an injury.

City almost went ahead immediately after that when Leroy Sane crossed for Sterling whose shot was deflected onto the post by Steve Cook.

Sterling could not believe his luck but he did not have long to dwell on his disappointment.

Just three minutes later, Sane crossed again and this time Steve Cook deflected the ball into the path of Sterling who smashed in at the far post for his fifth Premier League goal against Bournemouth, the most he has scored against a single opponent.

Minutes later, Josh King thought he had equalised but referee Neil Swarbrick ruled out his goal for pulling John Stones' shirt in the build up.

Bournemouth felt aggrieved though they had City rattled and, when Jack Wilshere also withdrew through injury, Howe replaced him with Benik Afobe, a striker as he sensed an opportunity.

Though City continued to impress on the break, with Sane in particular causing the Cherries problems, Bournemouth kept threatening.

Afobe passed to Harry Arter whose curling shot was tipped round the post by Caballero following some neat approach work from the home side.

One sensed it was only a matter of time before Aguero got his opportunity.

It came when Fernandinho fed Sterling down the City left and he bamboozled Adam Smith with a series of step-overs before crossing for Aguero who poked home via the toe of Mings.

There was still time for the excellent Sane to smash a shot against the crossbar but by then, City had done more than enough to warrant the three points.

After the match Guardiola wished Bournemouth's Arter well on the upcoming birth of his child after the loss of his daughter who was still born in 2015.

The former Bayern Munich manager also commented that he had learned from the upset the Cherries had caused Liverpool to not let the same happen to his City side.

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Fixtures
Sunday, 20 August 2017
Huddersfield Town v Newcastle United, The John Smith's Stadium 14:30
Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea, Wembley Stadium 17:00
Monday, 21 August 2017
Manchester City v Everton, Etihad Stadium 21:00
Saturday, 26 August 2017
AFC Bournemouth v Manchester City, Vitality Stadium 13:30
Crystal Palace v Swansea City, Selhurst Park 16:00
Newcastle United v West Ham United, St. James' Park 16:00
Huddersfield Town v Southampton, The John Smith's Stadium 16:00
Watford v Brighton & Hove Albion, Vicarage Road Stadium 16:00
Manchester United v Leicester City, Old Trafford 18:30
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