Soccer

Phil Foden effort enough as Man City close gap on Liverpool with Bournemouth win

The Premier League champions took advantage of Liverpool being in Carabao Cup action this weekend.

Phil Foden (front) grabbed the only goal for Manchester City at Bournemouth
Phil Foden (front) celebrates for Manchester City Phil Foden (front) grabbed the only goal for Manchester City at Bournemouth (Adam Davy/PA)

Phil Foden’s 16th goal of the season helped Manchester City close the gap on Premier League leaders Liverpool to one point with an unconvincing 1-0 win at Bournemouth.

Pep Guardiola’s side had to contend with local fireworks, a misfiring Erling Haaland and a second-half onslaught from the hosts before they left the south coast with a 15th victory from their last 17 matches.

This latest triumph was thanks to Foden’s 24th-minute tap-in, but it was the Cherries who did most of the running from there afterwards and were unlucky to lose with Marcus Tavernier squandering two fine chances.

Phil Foden’s first-half goal proved enough for City
Manchester City’s Phil Foden celebrates Phil Foden’s first-half goal proved enough for City (Adam Davy/PA)

Nevertheless, this win for the champions keeps them firmly in the hunt for another title ahead of a bumper month of March with league clashes to come with Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

City had edged past Brentford on Tuesday night thanks to a goal from Haaland, but his shooting boots deserted him after nine minutes at Vitality Stadium.

Sent through after Foden had flicked on Bernardo Silva’s lofted pass, current Premier League top goalscorer Haaland curled the ball wide from 20 yards to spark big cheers from the home faithful.

The Bournemouth fans were almost on their feet celebrating 60 seconds later when Andoni Iraola watched his team create an opening for left-back Milos Kerkez, who tested Ederson with a dipping effort.

Chances remained at a premium with the main first-half flashpoint Adam Smith’s forceful tackle on Matheus Nunes until Foden continued his outstanding month with a 24th-minute opener.

It was more akin to route one than excellent football with Kovacic able to chip the ball into the path of Haaland, who brilliantly rolled Marcos Senesi before Neto saved his effort but Foden stroked home from close range for his sixth goal involvement of February.

Guardiola was on his haunches moments later when Silva failed to play through Haaland as City started to get into their stride with a Rodri effort also bravely blocked by Ryan Christie.

Bournemouth had spent most of the first half allowing their frustration with referee Jarred Gillett to get the better of them, but eventually posed City problems with Ederson called upon to parry Christie’s low effort in stoppage-time.

Whether Iraola’s team could keep it up was another question, but they fashioned a decent opening which was wasted by Kerkez early into the second period.

Justin Kluivert tried his luck soon after and, while Ederson saved his 25-yard strike – not for the first time – the City goalkeeper looked unconvincing.

Bournemouth goalkeeper Neto punched the ball clear
Players watch as Bournemouth goalkeeper Neto punches the ball clear Bournemouth goalkeeper Neto punched the ball clear (Adam Davy/PA)

The champions nearly highlighted their overwhelming power minutes later when Haaland bundled his way into the area, but Illia Zabarnyi got back well to block with his backside.

It failed to halt Bournemouth’s momentum and they should have levelled in the 55th minute.

Antoine Semenyo again got the better of Nathan Ake and his cross found Marcus Tavernier, but the Cherries attacker fired his effort into the ground and Ruben Dias headed the wayward shot clear for good measure.

Bournemouth were in the ascendancy now and another guilt-edged chance was squandered when in-form Dominic Solanke twisted away from Dias and set up Taverner, who dragged his 14-yard shot wide.

Guardiola had seen enough and Jeremy Doku was the first to get the call from a star-studded bench but it did not have the desired effect.

The latest chance for the hosts came and went with 67 minutes played when Taverner’s inswinging corner found Solanke, but his header was clawed away on the goaline by Ederson and Kerkez’s follow-up shot was blocked by Rodri.

Fireworks were let off close by to the stadium moments later before Haaland was substituted by an increasingly-agitated Guardiola, with 15 minutes left straight after Neto had denied the Norway international from close range.

Iraola’s team carried on taking the fight to the visitors and after Dango Ouattara arrowed an effort wide, the final opportunity of the night went to Bournemouth’s January recruit Enes Unal, but he headed Semenyo’s cross off target to ensure City claimed the points.