Pep Guardiola hailed David Silva as “one of the best players” he has seen after he contributed to all three of Manchester City’s goals in a convincing win at Bournemouth.
On landmark day for Silva, making his 400th appearance for City, he again demonstrated his enduring quality as the champions moved up to second in the Premier League, two points behind leaders Liverpool.
The 33-year-old began the move for Sergio Aguero’s opener and then provided assists for Raheem Sterling and Aguero to add to the Blues’ tally.
“He played incredibly well. David in this kind of game – with a defence so deep and with such few spaces – is so good,” Guardiola said.
“He’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen.”
Despite an occasional defensive lapse, it proved a largely comfortable afternoon City who quickly established control and went in front when Argentina forward Aguero turned Kevin de Bruyne’s cross into the bottom left corner from eight yards.
Sterling then doubled their advantage with his fifth goal in as many matches, flicking a shot beyond Cherries keeper Aaron Ramsdale after a fine Silva pass.
While Bournemouth rallied and substitute Harry Wilson’s superb 25-yard free-kick raised hopes of a fight-back, Aguero pounced for City’s third after more good work from Silva.
The 31-year-old emphatically finished from 10 yards to record his 400th career goal.
It ensured Bournemouth, who drop to 10th place, continued a miserable run against City that has seen them concede 28 times in their last nine league meetings.
Silva sets the tone
If Sterling and Aguero were responsible for City’s goals, it was Silva who set the tone for their victory as he reached his own personal milestone.
While Sterling, 24, who scored his 11th goal against the Cherries, represents City’s future, Silva almost 10 years his senior, is in his final season in Manchester.
But this performance showed his ability to carve open opposition defences – a talent that has underpinned a trophy-laden period – is still as priceless as ever.
Nicknamed ‘Merlin’ by the club’s supporters, the 2010 World Cup winner initiated City’s opening goal with a couple of neat passes to spread the ball wide before Aguero dispatched the simplest of finishes.
His brilliance then fashioned City’s second.
Operating in the space between midfield and attack, Silva swivelled to receive possession and delivered a sublime pass into the path of Sterling in one motion, allowing the England forward to poke the ball past Ramsdale from six yards.
His control looked to have drawn a penalty from Jefferson Lerma, however VAR deemed there was not enough evidence to overturn the original call from referee Andre Marriner not to award the spot-kick.
Not that it mattered. Moments later Silva collected the ball on the left of the Cherries’ penalty area and weaved away from two defenders before the ball broke to Aguero, to seal victory.
‘Howe can take heart’
Eddie Howe’s side won just two of their 12 matches against top-six opponents last term and this was always going to be a particularly tough assignment for the Cherries who failed to register a shot in their 1-0 loss to Guardiola’s side in March.
The sweltering south coast conditions probably did not help, as the hosts chased shadows in the first 30 minutes with City dominating possession.
However, much of that could be attributed to Bournemouth’s own errant passing and Howe was heartened his side responded and did not capitulate against the champions.
The Cherries even had a measure of control in the 10 minutes either side of half-time, when Charlie Daniels’ knee injury prompted a reshuffle of personnel and the introduction of their scorer Wilson.
His effort that flew into the top-right corner was far from an isolated attempt at goal.
Nathan Ake miscued a volley after Steve Cook’s long throw, while Adam Smith blazed a glorious chance over the City bar from six yards, after being presented with the ball by visiting defender Nicolas Otamendi.
Callum Wilson also drew a save from Ederson as Bournemouth continued to press though, in the end, that proved scant consolation.
“We did have our chances and that’s the frustrating thing,” Howe said.
“Compare this game to our previous encounters against Manchester City, and that’s the most we’ve created by a long way. We were a constant menace to them physically, but it was a really tough afternoon – we really had to dig in for long spells.”
Man of the Match – David Silva (Man City)
Bournemouth’s City hoodoo – the stats
- Manchester City have won all nine of their top-flight games against Bournemouth – the best 100% win record by a team over an opponent in top-flight history.
- Bournemouth have lost four of their last seven home Premier League matches (W1 D2 L4), as many as in their previous 18 at the Vitality Stadium.
- Man City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne registered his 50th Premier League assist in his 123rd appearance, reaching the tally in the fewest number of games in the competition’s history.
- Sergio Aguero’s second goal was his 400th career goal for club and country, with 235 of those coming for City.
- Bournemouth’s Harry Wilson became the youngest player (22 years & 156 days) to score in his first two Premier League appearances since Anthony Martial in September 2015 for Manchester United (19 years & 289 days).
- In all competitions, City’s Raheem Sterling has scored 11 goals against Bournemouth – more than any other opponent during his club career.
- City’s David Silva assisted twice in this game and has assisted more than once in 14 separate Premier League games – only Ryan Giggs and Cesc Fabregas have done so more often (17 games).
- Aguero and Silva have combined for 27 Premier League goals – the only duos to combine for more are Thierry Henry and Robert Pires (29) and Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard (36).
Bournemouth host Forest Green in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday 28 August (19:45 BST) before travelling to Leicester in the Premier League, on Saturday 31 August (15:00 BST).
Callum Wilson scored his first Premier League goals at the Vitality Stadium since January Eddie …