Raheem Sterling and Wilfried Bony fire Manchester City to big win
Raheem Sterling hit a first-half hat-trick and Wilfried Bony struck twice as Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester City overcame promoted Bournemouth 5-1 at the Etihad Stadium.
City had needed someone to step up in the absence of injured star striker Sergio Aguero and £49million man Sterling duly rose to the challenge.
He and Bony both struck inside the opening 11 minutes and the former Liverpool man added two more after a Glenn Murray reply. Bony wrapped up scoring in the closing minutes.
There was a hint of offside about Sterling's first goal and Bournemouth might have had an early penalty, but Eddie Howe's side were ultimately overpowered.
The first half was played at a frenetic pace and may have been different had referee Mike Dean pointed to the spot when Dan Gosling went down under a challenge from Nicolas Otamendi.
But City scored from their first serious attack as Fernandinho's crossfield ball was headed back by Pablo Zabaleta and helped in the direction of Sterling by Bony.
There were suspicions of offside but Sterling swooped to tuck home from three yards.
City soon had a second as Bacary Sagna, playing at left-back because of injuries to Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov, whipped in a cross that Adam Federici could not hold.
Federici had only been called into the team at the last moment after Artur Boruc was injured in the warm-up and his unexpected opportunity quickly turned sour as Bony snaffled a gift from close range.
City threatened more as Jesus Navas burst clear to tee up Sterling but Andrew Surman produced a fine tackle and Federici then saved from the outstanding Kevin de Bruyne.
Bournemouth replied after 22 minutes when Murray let fly from the edge of the area as the City defence, again lacking authority in Vincent Kompany's absence, backed off.
Kompany had been left out by manager Manuel Pellegrini, who was unhappy his captain played for Belgium earlier in the week after missing the five previous City games with a calf injury.
But with Sevilla and Manchester United to play in the coming week, it may also have been a sensible precaution and, as City upped their game, that issue became irrelevant.
Sterling made it 3-1 just before the half-hour after being released by a superb through-ball from De Bruyne.
De Bruyne was then denied himself as Federici tipped a shot onto the bar but City still claimed their fourth before the break.
Navas should have taken the honours after racing clear of the defence and rounding Federici but he took too long to shoot and the keeper blocked. Fortunately for City, Sterling was on hand to ram home the rebound.
It marked quite a contrast from Sterling's last appearance at the ground, when he was substituted in the 6-1 win over Newcastle after an ineffective first-half display.
This time Yaya Toure made way at the interval, for reasons unclear, although he was recently troubled by a hamstring injury. De Bruyne was later given a rest.
Zabaleta forced Federici to save early in the second half and Bony also picked out the keeper. Sterling had two more good chances but first failed to get a shot away and then poked wide.
City then stepped off the gas and eased to a routine three points but Bony was not quite finished and tucked home another in the 89th minute.
Substitute Kelechi Iheanacho wanted to get in on the act but had a last-gasp effort ruled out for offside.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
"Sterling is worth every Sterling"
- Jan Aage Fjortoft @JanAageFjortoft
Joe Hart: 6
Pablo Zabaleta: 6
Eliaquim Mangala: 6
Nicolas Otamendi: 6
Bacary Sagna: 6
Yaya Toure: 6
Raheem Sterling: 8
Kevin de Bruyne: 8
Jesus Navas: 7
Wilfried Bony: 8
Samir Nasri: 6
Kelechi Iheanacho: 7
Adam Federici: 6
Charlie Daniels: 5
Steve Cook: 5
Sylvain Distin: 5
Simon Francis: 5
Matt Ritchie: 6
Andrew Surman: 5
Dan Gosling: 5
Adam Smith: 5
Eunan O'Kane: 5
Glenn Murray: 6
Shaun MacDonald: 5
Josh King: 5
Marc Pugh: 5
Raheem Sterling. What a difference an international break makes. Sterling was taken off at the interval in City's last outing, the 6-1 home win over Newcastle, having failed to spark. Here - just over a week on from scoring for England - he made an emphatic return to club form, notching a first-half hat-trick to ensure Sergio Aguero's absence was not so keenly felt.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
City's third goal. After doubts over the legitimacy of the hosts' opener and an error being key to the second goal, genuine class was what put City 3-1 up as the excellent Kevin de Bruyne played a superb ball through to Sterling, who bamboozled Bournemouth's defence with some trickery before slotting in.
VIEW FROM THE BENCH
Although there were some shaky moments, City manager Manuel Pellegrini will be satisfied with another very convincing attacking effort from his side after the demolition of Newcastle - this time achieved without the likes of Aguero and David Silva. Vincent Kompany also sat things out again, kept back as an unused substitute ahead of the midweek visit of Sevilla.
As for Bournemouth, they had started the game with admirable fearlessness and their boss Eddie Howe may well argue they should have had a penalty before City's first goal - and that that effort should have been ruled out for offside. Ultimately, his men were overwhelmed.
MOAN OF THE MATCH
With them having fallen behind as early as the seventh minute, things were already looking ominous for Bournemouth when goalkeeper Adam Federici - in the team at the last minute after Artur Boruc was injured during the warm-up - added another howler to that he committed for Reading in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Arsenal in April.
This spillage, pounced upon by Wilfried Bony, left the Australia stopper's new club facing an impossible-seeming task with only 11 minutes gone. He actually pulled off some great saves thereafter, but the damage had been done.
WHO'S UP NEXT?
Manchester City v Sevilla (Champions League, Wednesday October 21)
Bournemouth v Tottenham (Barclays Premier League, Sunday October 25)