Man City 4-0 Bournemouth: No Erling Haaland Goal But Kevin de Bruyne Stars
Erling Haaland could not mark his home debut for Manchester City with another goal, but it made no difference for Pep Guardiola’s side who still swept Bournemouth aside with ease.
Haaland, who scored twice on his Premier League bow at West Ham last weekend, took 18 minutes to take his first touch but used it to set up Ilkay Gundogan for City’s opener.
City had been dominating the game since the start, and it did not take long for more goals to follow.
The impressive Kevin de Bruyne made it 2-0 with a dazzling solo strike, running to the corner of the area before bending the ball into the bottom corner with the outside of his boot.
And Phil Foden made sure of the points before half-time, running on to a De Bruyne pass and letting fly with a shot that Cherries keeper Mark Travers got his body behind but could not keep out.
Bournemouth spent most of their time defending in a compact 5-4-1 formation, and only forced Ederson into action once, through a Ben Pearson snap-shot from the edge of the area.
They never looked remotely capable of staging a comeback in the second half, which had turned into a stroll in the Manchester sunshine for the home side long before Jefferson Lerma’s own goal made it 4-0.
Lerma was trying to stop Joao Cancelo’s low cross from reaching substitute Bernardo Silva, but only succeeded in sending the ball spinning past Travers to complete an afternoon to forget for his team.
It already seems somewhat surprising to see City score four times without Haaland getting any of them, but this victory was a reminder of the goal threat that runs right through this team, not just from their new striker.
Bournemouth were under threat from the first minute, when Nathan Ake headed wide from a corner, with Rodri nodding over from the same source soon afterwards.
Riyad Mahrez and Foden also forced saves from Travers in the opening 10 minutes, although Haaland may feel Foden should have squared the ball to find him unmarked in front of goal instead of shooting.
If Haaland was getting frustrated at his lack of involvement, he did not let it show – instead using his power to hold off his marker and set up Gundogan for a cool finish that sent City on their way.
De Bruyne’s brilliance created their second and third goals, but Haaland’s chances of getting on the scoresheet remained limited.
After the Norwegian’s heavy touch from a Ruben Dias pass into the area, Travers collected the ball before Haaland could control it, and the Cherries keeper tipped over his lob when he did get a shot away.
Haaland’s last chance came and went when he screwed wide from a Jack Grealish pull-back with 20 minutes to go, and he was replaced by Julian Alvarez moments later.
The former Borussia Dortmund man had only eight touches in all – the fewest of any player who started the game – but was still given a standing ovation from the home fans. On this evidence, City remain hard to stop even when he is not at his very best.
Bournemouth had began the season in impressive style themselves, with a 2-0 win over Aston Villa, but they never came close to repeating that result here.
Scott Parker’s side struggled to get out of their own half with the score at 0-0 and paid the price for trying to get further up the pitch after falling behind.
They only succeeded in leaving City space to break into for the first time, and De Bruyne punished them with his brilliant finish after running to the edge of the Cherries area without being challenged.
When Bournemouth did finally get the ball up to Kieffer Moore at the other end, he created a shooting opportunity for Ben Pearson, but any sights of goal were few and far between for the visitors.
Damage limitation seemed a more sensible approach for Parker’s side than chasing a way back into the game – especially given the soaring temperatures at Etihad Stadium, and the quality of the opposition.