By Wiliams ‘Bantu’ Irubor
Sergio Aguero came off the bench to help Manchester City beat Bournemouth 2-0 at the Vitality Stadium on Monday night and go second in the Premier League.
Raheem Sterling broke the deadlock on 29 minutes with his fifth league goal against the Cherries, before Tyrone Mings deflected an Aguero shot past Artur Boruc to seal the win for the visitors 21 minutes from time.
However, it was not all good news for Pep Guardiola’s side, who saw Gabriel Jesus limp off with a foot problem in the first half, while Bournemouth also lost Jack Wilshere with an ankle problem.
As a result, City move up to second in the table, eight points behind leaders Chelsea. Bournemouth remain 14th after a fifth home game without a win, six points clear of the relegation zone.
Eddie Howe opted to revert to a flat back four after experimenting with three central defenders in their 6-3 loss to Everton last time out, with the Bournemouth manager making three changes from that drubbing at Goodison Park.
Guardiola, meanwhile, kept up his record of never picking the same team in the top flight this season as Bacary Sagna replaced the injured Gael Clichy, meaning Aguero had to settle for a place on the bench for the third league game in a row.
However, the Argentina international did not have long to wait to enter the fray following a foot injury suffered by Jesus after 15 minutes, although that setback did not affect City.
The visitors were enjoying the time and space afforded to them by Bournemouth in the first half, and could have taken the lead just before the half-hour mark after David Silva released Leroy Sane down the left.
But after the German’s pull back found Sterling, the forward’s shot was deflected onto the post before Kevin De Bruyne’s close-range follow-up was also blocked.
Yaya Toure then went close to opening the scoring with a delightful curler from the edge of the box that beat Boruc, but not the left-hand post, although those near misses were soon forgotten as City took the lead.
Once again it was Silva who was the architect as the playmaker sent Sane clear down the left, and the forward’s deflected centre was tucked home by the unmarked Sterling at the far post for his sixth league goal of the season.
Bournemouth thought they had got back into the contest right from the restart after Josh King stroked home Ibe’s right-wing cross, however, after a slight delay the strike was ruled out for a clear pull by the striker on John Stones seconds before the ball hit the net.
The Cherries’ evening then went from bad to worse as influential midfielder Wilshere – who almost created an early goal for Ibe with a delightful flick, only for Willy Caballero to deny the winger with a last-ditch intervention – was forced off with an ankle injury moments before half-time.
Bournemouth came out all guns blazing after the break and nearly drew level midway through the second half when substitute Benik Afobe raced clear to the left-hand byline, before picking out Harry Arter on the edge of the box.
However, Caballero kept his concentration to turn the midfielder’s well-struck curler behind for a corner and minutes later City doubled their lead.
City, and in particular Sane, could have added further goals in the closing stages, but the winger saw one effort thump against the bar, before then shooting just wide of the far post after being sent clean through on goal.
Next up for City are clashes against Huddersfield Town and Monaco in the FA Cup and Champions League respectively, before their next league fixture at Sunderland on March 5.
Meanwhile, Bournemouth now face away trips to West Bromwich Albion and Manchester United as they look to end a poor run of six defeats in their last nine matches.