Belfast Telegraph

Man City look slick as Silva pulls strings

Bournemouth 0 - Man City 2

By Ian Herbert

If anyone is going to push Chelsea for the title, it will be Manchester City. They are unlikely to do it, of course, and are still eight points behind Antonio Conte's runaway train with 13 games left.

But City, on this evidence, are now the second best team in the country.

This was City's fourth win in a row, an impressive 2-0 seeing-off of a very competitive, energetic Bournemouth side in the bitter Dorset cold.

They did not play quite as well as in their wins at Selhurst Park and the London Stadium, but they got the job done again.

Even with Gabriel Jesus limping off after 14 minutes, City cut the Cherries to pieces, all of it orchestrated by the brilliant David Silva.

He started the move that culminated in the first goal, while the second was bundled in by Sergio Aguero, his first after five difficult weeks.

City will wait anxiously on Gabriel's injury but there is still a very good team here, even without their new Brazilian superstar.

There is certainly enough to win a trophy this season, if they can keep playing like this.

City wanted to carry on in the same vein as their last three wins, all of them achieved with Aguero on the bench and Gabriel up front.

But Bournemouth were too smart and too busy, disrupting City's build-up. Gabriel's first real touch came after six minutes, coming back into his own half to look for the ball, and he put it out for a throw.

Bournemouth were stopping Gabriel and after one 50-50 with Simon Francis he felt his ankle.

After another with Steve Cook he went down and clearly could not continue. On came Aguero (below), not a bad sub 12 minutes in, but not Plan A anymore either.

City had to work hard but they had a plan and it did not involve Aguero. They wanted Leroy Sane running at Adam Smith, and Silva's job was to give Sane the ball.

The third time he did it, Smith slipped and Sane pulled the ball back to Raheem Sterling. He took a touch but Cook read his shot, diving to deflect it onto the post.

The next time City tried that move they scored. Again, Silva found Sane, bursting forward.

His low cross hit Cook and bounced up to the far post. Sterling read it fastest, putting the ball in before anyone else could react.

Bournemouth thought they had hit straight back when Josh King whipped in Jordon Ibe's cross only for Neil Swarbrick to belatedly call for a foul by King on John Stones which was far from obvious in real-time. Even after making their second enforced change before the break, Bournemouth went in behind but encouraged.

The Cherries continued to pin City back at the start of the second half and with Benik Afobe now up front alongside King, they had real presence to their press.

City were forced to defend, which they do not like doing, while they hoped for a second on the break.

Silva was just as good as he was in the first half, always one step ahead of his opponents, seeing space and moving into it.

This was as well as he has played all season, which is saying something.

Silva kept trying to release Sane and Aguero into dangerous positions but City could never quite land the killer blow.

Just when City were starting to get anxious, when Willy Caballero had to save from Harry Arter, they finally scored their second.

After so much joy with Sane running at Smith, this time it was Sterling, one on one with the right back, beating him down to the by-line with a brilliant stepover.

Sterling pulled the ball back to the near post where Aguero and Tyrone Mings slid for it, jointly diverting it into the net.

That was the end of the game and City's only regret is that they did not add a deserved third.

Sane blasted one against the bar before Artur Boruc somehow kept out an Aleksandar Kolarov rocket.

But City took the points back to Manchester, trying to keep the pressure on Chelsea if they can.

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