AFC Bournemouth took a step closer to relegation on Wednesday night as they were edged out 2-1 by Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
A late goal from Welshman David Brooks, along with a host of following chances were not enough to earn Eddie Howe’s men a point, which many may have seen as deserved. The performance was arguably one of the best all season from the Cherries, who constantly gave the City defence problems across the match.
Despite the 4-1 win over Leicester at the weekend, Eddie Howe made four changes to his victorious side. Steve Cook replaced injured Nathan Ake at the back, whilst in the middle of the pitch Philip Billing, Junior Stanislas and Joshua King came in for Arnaut Danjunma, David Brooks and Callum Wilson.
Pep Guardiola made six changes to his side that thumped Brighton 5-0 Saturday, which included the first ever link up between Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones at the back. The changes also included the addition of Phil Foden and Fernandinho.
It did not take long for City to strike first, when just five minutes in Jefferson Lerma brought down David Silva with a clumsy sliding challenge on the edge of the area. Silva, who will leave Manchester at the end of the season, struck the looping free kick from the right into Ramsdale’s top right corner off the underside of the crossbar.
Before the fixture the Cherries had conceded a horrifying 28 goals across the nine matches they had played against City since their promotion in 2015. Howe’s men had only managed to tally four of their own in these same games. In fact these matches saw City boast the best 100% record against another opponent in top-flight history.
Despite this worrying history against the hosts, Bournemouth did manage to cause City some trouble in the first quarter of the match. After a failed clearance from the men in blue when Josh King’s close range effort on the turn was fired narrowly high and wide of the Ederson net.
The Cherries continued to apply pressure when fresh from scoring a brace Dominic Solanke went on a mazy run towards the City backline. Otamendi brought him down to give Bournemouth a dangerous free kick of their own. Junior Stanislas hit the set piece with venom which was destined for the right hand side of the goal, however Ederson pulled off an spectacular athletic diving save to tip the ball onto the post and behind.
Regardless of Bournemouth’s efforts, City clinically doubled their lead on 39 minutes. David Silva played a pinpoint pass into the Cherries area which was picked up by Gabriel Jesus. The Brazilian danced around Bournemouth defenders from the left of the area and fired the ball across Ramsdale to find City’s second.
Guardiola’s men were perhaps unlucky not to have a chance at a three goal lead before the break. Lerma appeared to stand on the foot of Jesus bringing him down in the area, but a quick VAR check decided not to overrule referee Lee Mason’s on field decision of no penalty.
The Cherries started the second period brightly and 13 minutes in they nearly found themselves back in the game. Stanislas’ cross found a free King at the back post to slot the ball into the City goal. However, after the lineman raised his flag and VAR checked it, King’s toe appeared to be offside by the faintest of margins.
Howe’s men were the better side in the second half, and they may have felt they got some deserved fortune when City had an awarded penalty overturned by VAR on 71 minutes. Steve Cook lunged to dispossess Jesus in the area bringing the forward down, however after the check it was seen Cook’s toe got to the ball which led to the decision being corrected.
The Cherries had their own half hearted penalty shouts waved away by Mason, as Harry Wilson clearly dived to the ground after seeing the sliding substitute Riyad Mahrez approaching to his left.
Bournemouth continued to pressure into the last ten minutes, as Ryan Gosling cut the ball back from the right to substitute Callum Wilson in the area. The man from Coventry hit a first time shot across goal and wide of a static Ederson’s net.
All of Bournemouth’s hard work to score a goal finally paid off on 88 minutes, when Callum Wilson latched onto a long ball and caught the City defence asleep. He sprayed a pass across to a rushing David Brooks who directed the one on one chance into the corner of the City goal for his first goal of the season.
The visitors carried on applying late pressure, and Steve Cook’s nodded header almost found a sprinting Surridge to poke the ball home. Ederson was first to it however to keep the young Cherries striker at bay.
Despite all the danger posed by their opponents, Manchester City managed to close out the 2-1 victory. However Eddie Howe’s men must take a vast amount of optimism from the game, where they took a team placed 17 places higher than them right to the wire.
With just a home tie to Southampton and an away trip to Everton left, it is crucial the Cherries keep up the positive showings to try and close the three point gap between themselves and Watford to jump out of the relegation zone.
The Hornets travel to West Ham on Friday, who also have a three point advantage on the Cherries.
Manchester City XI: Ederson, Walker (Garcia 46′), Stones, Otamendi, Mendy (Zinchenko 77′), Gundogan (Rodri 68′), Fernandinho, D Silva (C), B Silva (Sterling 46′), Jesus (Mahrez 77′), and Foden
Manchester City bench: Carson, De Bruyne, Doyle, Garcia, Laporte, Mahrez, Rodri, Sterling and Zinchenko
Goalscorers: D Silva (6′), Jesus (39′)
Yellow cards: Garcia (94′)
Red cards: none
AFC Bournemouth XI: Ramsdale, Stacey, S Cook, Kelly, Rico, Gosling (L Cook 69′), Lerma, Billing (Surridge 90′), Stanislas (Brookes 69′), King (H Wilson 77′) and Solanke (C Wilson 69′)
AFC Bournemouth bench: Boruc, Brooks, L Cook, Danjuma, Simpson, Surman, Surridge, C Wilson and H Wilson
Goalscorers: Brooks (88′)
Yellow cards: Kelly (17′)
Red cards: none
Referee: Lee Mason