In a must win game to ensure City achieve Champions League qualification the team came out of the traps very sharply. Kevin DeBruyne after 2.5 months out came back to start his first game and City were on the front foot from the start.
Pellegrini seems to have prioritised the Champions League this season and one can only second guess players were playing for their chance to be in the first eleven versus PSG on Wednesday. Samir Nasri also returned after almost five months out enhancing the attacking threat, and lessening the overwhelming burden on David Silva.
City scored on 7 minutes with Fernando. Deployed almost up alongside Agüero in a central attacking role, De Bruyne was into the action from the start as his clever backheel almost played in David Silva. From the resulting corner, Bournemouth should have cleared, but it still took an expert piece of readjustment from Fernando to hook the ball into the net.
The second goal was the City of old, the 5 game unbeaten run at the beginning of the season. Sergio Aguero’s cunning lob played Silva in behind the defence and his ball to pick out the onrushing De Bruyne to lash home was simply sublime.
Agüero effectively sealed the points in the 19th minute when he rose highest to nod home from Jesús Navas’s cross. 3-0 up in 19 minutes was due to Bournemouth being poor as much as City playing well. Benik Afobe out with a hamstring meant Bournemouth missed their focal point.
The Cherries did create an opening after half and hour when Steve Cook’s header brought a fine diving save from Willy Caballero but they must have felt grateful when the half-time whistle was blown.
There is an element of Bournemouth losing their intensity and focus now they have secured their Premier League status.
“We played very well especially the first 45 minutes where we pressed high and scored three beautiful goals. That gives you a lot of trust, as a team, and after that as individual players, when they have the performance they did. That’s the way I like to see this team play, that’s the style I like us to play the game.” Pellegrini explained in his post match interview.
Kolarov and Nasri came on for DeBruyne and Silva in the 57th and 66th minute. Kolarov slammed in an injury time fourth that bodes well for their difficult first leg away to PSG in the Champions League on Wednesday. Pellegrini likely to be without Toure, Sterling, Kompany and Hart will be grateful to have DeBruyne and Nasri back to enhance their creativity.
Aguero’s fitness and sharpness after his enforced injury break also looks encouraging for City in their crucial week. Pellegrini has been hampered with his big players being injured sporadically throughout the season, but sympathy is thin on the ground after spending so much money since the Abu Dhabi money came into City. The two legs against PSG will be Pellegrini’s last hurrah and he couldn’t have wished for a better warm up game for that daunting trip to Paris.
MoM : Kevin DeBruyne