Erling Haaland Scores As Manchester City Turn On The Style At Bournemouth

Pep Guardiola's men put on a vintage display at the Vitality Stadium
19:22, 25 Feb 2023

Manchester City have lacked a little something over recent weeks. A sort of dominant, cutting edge supremacy one associates with the best Pep Guardiola teams. It is unsurprising considering this team has won four of the last five Premier League titles. As Liverpool have shown this season, a period of success if often followed by a dramatic downturn. But against Bournemouth this afternoon, a 4-1 victory showed that City can still kill the old way. 

City’s opener could have been ripped from the Guardiola textbook. Rico Lewis’s thumping tackle deep in Bournemouth’s half was a testament to the high-press the Spaniard has made famous. This triggered a lightning quick move in which Phil Foden ghosted into the box, the ball fell into the path of Erling Haaland who fluffed his lines before Julian Alvarez hammered it into the roof of the net. It was scintillating stuff and a reminder of City’s quality.


Bournemouth had their moments. Most of them emanated from Jordan Zemura, a whirling dervish at wing back. His crosses were dealt with by City, but they threatened at least. But the closest the Cherries came was through Adam Smith. He exchanged passes with Dango Outtara before unleashing a mighty shot that was blocked by Ruben Dias.

But the Premier League champions could not be stopped, at least not by their opposition here. Ilkay Gundogan fired in a precise cross towards Foden, that Zemura did well to nudge away. But his clearance could only reach Haaland, who made up for his previous miss by finding the net. He has not been at his imperious best recently but it’s sometimes easy to forget we don’t judge him by normal, human standards. He still has 33 goals in as many games in this campaign.

Foden marked his 200th City appearance with a goal of his own. It was his first since the World Cup and a fine reassertion of his quality. Foden looked alive when Bournemouth went to sleep, a loose pass selling Jack Stephens short before the Stockport lad stole in.

The second half didn’t bring any respite for Gary O’Neil’s side. As they were pulled deeper and deeper into their own box, a bit of pinball broke out in the area. Alvarez reacted quickest and hammered his shot past Neto into the Cherries net. It was a natural progression of how the game had been going, but the fact it collided with, and was credited to, Chris Mepham was an extra sickener.

The tactical trick O’Neil tried to play in lining up in an uncharacteristic 5-4-1 had little impact. The “Erling Haaland, he’s scored more than you” chants from the travelling City fans were both factually accurate and a hint at why they thought defensive football was the way to go. 

Bournemouth did restore some late pride through Jefferson Lerma. A well-timed run wrong-footed Dias and the Colombian met a pull-back to finish calmly. It was a nicely-worked goal, though will provide only a little salve to the wounds City inflicted here. 

City have shown flashes of their vintage brilliance recently, such as their 3-1 victory over Arsenal. They have also looked far away from that exalted level, as in their 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest. This performance firmly fits into the former category. But the key element missing this season has been consistency. Guardiola will need to instil that vital ingredient if his team are going to see off the challenge of the Gunners and leapfrog them to take the title.

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