Normally someone with Kevin De Bruyne’s pale complexion struggles in the heat but the Belgian provided another example of why he is one of the world’s elite against Bournemouth. Last season was his most productive Premier League campaign with 15 goals and eight assists but he looks up to the challenge of bettering himself. He was at the heart of City’s dominant performance, scoring and creating a goal in a dynamic display.
Ilkay Gündogan, De Bruyne and Phil Foden ensured the second half was a procession for City, and this display will reassure any doubters that Pep Guardiola’s side are the one to beat this season. They spent 90 minutes controlling possession, picking their moments to end Bournemouth’s futile resistance.
From start to finish City were the dominant force, patiently waiting for the right moment to create chances against a side with 10 men behind the ball. After their opening-day win against Villa, promoted Bournemouth learned about the rigours of the Premier League. Within six minutes City had produced four dangerous corners and Jack Stacey had been booked for a lunge on Riyad Mahrez. Bournemouth had arrived with the aim of soaking up as much pressure as possible on a scorching day in east Manchester, not that Scott Parker’s cardigan indicated the seasonal warmth.
Even if their manager was not feeling the heat, the Bournemouth defence were. Foden should have squared to Erling Haaland for a tap-in after inadvertently controlling a De Bruyne shot, but took aim from close range only to see the ball ricochet off the goalkeeper Mark Travers.
City were in complete control. Bournemouth struggled to get out of their own half in the opening 15 minutes, instead setting up camp on the edge of the box. They were breached, inevitably, in the 19th minute when Haaland showed his quality by cushioning a pass with his back to goal while under pressure from two players marking him, before spinning and sending the ball through to Gündogan who drove the ball across Travers into the corner.
When City enjoy so much possession, it is always likely that De Bruyne will get to influence proceedings. He collected the ball on the half-hour mark 30 yards from goal. Bournemouth afforded him space to run, allowing the Belgian to reach the edge of the area unchallenged. He stopped, took aim with the outside of his right boot, and picked out the bottom corner with precision. “When I was in Munich he was in Wolfsburg and I think he was the best player in the Bundesliga,” Guardiola said. “Kevin was a really good player before our arrival, he’s good with us and will be good after us. There was no space with this type of shot and it was an incredible goal.”
De Bruyne then cut open the bewildered defence for Foden to score City’s third goal. His run was not tracked and he calmly slid his shot into the corner despite the goalkeeper’s best efforts. “It was an incredible performance, the assist for Phil came from him,” Guardiola. “Against Bournemouth it is difficult to do because they defend the box and they hold their line really well.”
Haaland and his City teammates are quickly learning about one another. As his goals at West Ham showed, they know the runs he will make and it was the same against Bournemouth. They put in early crosses for him to attack, and played defence-splitting passes for him to latch on to. He had only eight touches in the match but still created a goal and deserved his standing ovation when substituted.
The second half was less intense. City used it as the perfect preparation for their upcoming friendly against Barcelona by slowing the tempo, making numerous substitutions and having shots at goal from distance to keep the crowd interested in the sunshine.
Jefferson Lerma turned a João Cancelo cross into his own goal to further widen the gulf between the two sides. This loss will not define Bournemouth’s season but will be a vital learning curve. “We’ve played against a world-class team that can execute in any given moment,” said Parker. “The quality shone through. I was pleased with [my] team in terms of the way they stuck with it, good endeavour, good personality, still brave and had courage.”
Guardiola gave a debut to 17-year-old Rico Lewis late on. He was born more than five and a half years after the Cherries last picked up a point against the hosts. City have now won the past 12 meetings between these two sides and it could be a long time until Bournemouth end that record.