Pep Guardiola’s stunning start at Manchester City continued as the Premier League leaders crushed Bournemouth 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium.
Goals from Kevin De Bruyne, Kelechi Iheanacho, Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Gundogan secured City’s eighth successive win – an unprecedented feat for the club at the start of a season – since Guardiola took charge.
The only downside for City was the sending-off of Nolito for aiming a headbutt at Adam Smith in the 86th minute, but the performance as a whole was highly impressive.
Guardiola’s men were commanding in possession and scintillating on the counter-attack. The Spaniard is threatening to mould a highly talented squad into something even greater than the sum of their parts.
From the back, where Aleksandar Kolarov again looked composed at centre-half, to a forward line formidable even without the suspended Sergio Aguero, City were magnificent and too strong for Bournemouth.
The hosts, and De Bruyne in particular, were in the mood from kick-off with the Belgian needing just eight seconds to register the first shot. Artur Boruc saved comfortably but the tone was set.
FT | City 4-0 AFCB
— Manchester City (@ManCity) September 17, 2016
City spent most of the first 15 minutes encamped in the Bournemouth half and the seemingly inevitable breakthrough came after Jack Wilshere, making an ignominious first Cherries start, tripped Nolito. De Bruyne looked to be eyeing up the top corner at the resulting free-kick but instead cleverly rolled the ball under the wall to wrong-foot Boruc.
A quick break almost led to another straight away as De Bruyne fed Nolito but the Spaniard shot straight at Boruc.
Bournemouth could not stem the flow, however, and after De Bruyne led another raid and released Sterling, the England forward unselfishly teed up a second goal for Iheanacho.
Only rarely did Bournemouth break into the opposing half, let alone reach the final third. When Joshua King did get behind the defence and squeeze the ball past Claudio Bravo, Nicolas Otamendi tidied up with little alarm.
Were it not for Boruc, City could have won even more convincingly. The Pole saved a long-range effort from Kolarov and denied Sterling at close quarters following another slick move.
He was hurt as City scored their third goal, another superb counter-attacking effort. De Bruyne was again the instigator, sending Iheanacho free, and the Nigerian collided with the keeper in the process of setting up Sterling’s simple finish.
Boruc required some treatment but opted to play on as Bournemouth tried to limit further damage.
He stood up well to block Sterling at point-blank range after the winger had beaten most of the defence on a mazy run through the area. Sterling also lashed another effort over and Gundogan shot wide.
Yet Gundogan was not to be denied on his Premier League debut. De Bruyne slipped the German in on goal with another sublime ball and he finished well with a deft clip over Boruc just after the hour.
At this point City’s job was done and they eased off the pressure. Callum Wilson almost grabbed a consolation for Bournemouth with a shot that hit the crossbar, although he was in an offside position.
The only blotch for City came in the closing moments as Smith caught Nolito and the Spaniard angrily pushed his head towards him. He did not seem to make firm contact but referee Jon Moss brandished a red card.