David Silva serves up another masterclass as Manchester City beat Bournemouth
The Spaniard scored and assisted for Jesus as City run out 2-1 winners at the Etihad
David Silva is at that stage of his Manchester City career where every goal he scores at the Etihad Stadium has the potential to be the last. The Spaniard may have become more prolific as he nears the end but if this was his valedictory strike, it was a suitably classy one.
Silva being Silva, there was an assist too. City did not need the rested Kevin de Bruyne as their captain put on a masterclass. He scored a free kick that otherwise the Belgian might have taken as they made it six successive home wins, even if, in one respect they had nothing to play for. They were already guaranteed second place. The more pertinent part is that Bournemouth remain second from bottom.
In a different respect to Silva, they are running out of time. This ranked as one of their best results against City – Bournemouth have the wrong sort of 100 per cent record, losing all 10 top-flight meetings – but they needed to play with such verve earlier. Their attacking endeavours offered hope but they still have not taken a point on the road in 2020 and, if they extend that record at Everton next Sunday, they will surely become a Championship club.
City have altogether higher ambitions and, with Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal in mind, Pep Guardiola made six changes. De Bruyne, Aymeric Laporte and Raheem Sterling were among those rested, even if the Englishman, often the scourge of Bournemouth, came on as a striker in the second half. Gabriel Jesus, who led the line in the first half, pressed his case to keep that role at Wembley on Saturday. It seemed he had won a penalty, too, only for VAR to overrule referee Lee Mason and declare Steve Cook’s challenge was fair. But before then, and with help from Silva, he had scored.
Ten years and one day after signing, the Spaniard only took five minutes to make his mark. Jefferson Lerma should have been booked for ploughing through Silva. The City captain exacted a different form of justice by whipping in a wonderful free kick off the underside of the bar. The watching Leicester City playmaker James Maddison tweeted that Silva is “a true Premier League great” and few at City are likely to disagree.
Sometimes Silva does the spectacular. Often he makes the difficult look easy. His latest assist was a case in point. He guided the ball into the penalty area to find Jesus, who nutmegged Jack Stacey to beat two defenders and slid a shot past Aaron Ramsdale. It was his 93rd Premier League assist, taking him above Steven Gerrard and putting him only one behind Dennis Bergkamp. Another Arsenal great was spared by Guardiola: the omitted De Bruyne will now find it harder to break Thierry Henry’s record of 20 assists in a season.
City’s passers are not confined to their midfield. There were some examples of Ederson’s extraordinary distribution. Time and again he bypassed the defence and the midfield to find his fellow Brazilian Jesus on the counter-attack.
The goalkeeper excelled at his defensive duties as well, making a superb save to tip Junior Stanislas’ free kick on to the post. It was far from the only time Bournemouth showed some attacking ambition.
Manager Eddie Howe had said “nothing is impossible” and Bournemouth were buoyed by Sunday’s remarkable, four-goal comeback against Leicester. They looked very different to the team who capitulated against Newcastle United and applied pressure in both halves.
A fit-again Josh King shot wide on the turn while Dominic Solanke headed just past the near post and had an effort turned over the bar by a sliding Nicolas Otamendi. Fresh from his belated league goals for Bournemouth on Sunday, Solanke offered a threat and indications of why he has been so highly rated.
King did find the net after the break but was fractionally offside when Stanislas crossed to him. Callum Wilson shot wide on another swift break and Bournemouth were rare visitors who had more shots than City.
They fully deserved David Brooks’ late goal, set up by his fellow substitute Wilson and denying City a sixth successive home clean sheet, but while it is Wembley for Guardiola’s men, it is worry for Howe’s.
Updated: July 16, 2020 12:03 AM