Sterling and Bony shine as Blues run riot
FA Premier League
Saturday 17 October 2015, 15.00 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Otamendi, Mangala, Sagna, Fernandinho, Toure (Fernando 46), Navas, De Bruyne (Nasri 62), Sterling (Iheanacho 78), Bony
Unused: Caballero, Demichelis, Kompany, Roberts
Goals: Sterling (7, 29, 45), Bony (11, 89)
Booked: Sagna, Otamendi
Referee: Mike Dean
Man of the match: Bony
Raheem Sterling scored his first professional hat-trick as the Blues cruised to a comfortable 5-1 victory against newly promoted Bournemouth. It was a welcome return to the form for the England international, whose finishing ability had been questioned in recent weeks. Wilfried Bony also ended his personal goal drought, scoring twice to help fill the void left by Sergio Aguero's latest injury.
Eddie Howe's side, also beleaguered by injuries, were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty in the opening stages, after Nicolas Otamendi's rash challenge on Dan Gosling in the area. Referee Mike Dean waved played on, and shortly afterwards City took the lead, again in controversial circumstances. Sterling initially appeared to be offside as he tapped in from two yards out, but the officials correctly awarded the goal; a Bournemouth defender who had slid off the pitch in the build-up was technically playing him onside.
City doubled their advantage three minutes later, after a goalkeeping error by Adam Federici left Bony with an empty net. The Ivorian striker's relief was palpable as he rolled the ball home, and afterwards he revealed that he had suffered from malaria over the summer. His return to fitness, and indeed form, has come at an opportune moment for Manuel Pellegrini.
Bournemouth rallied briefly, and Glenn Murray reduced the deficit via a slight deflection off Eliaquim Mangala. The Frenchman stood off Murray, allowing him too much time and space to get a shot away. It was a rare error from Mangala, who has started the season well after a difficult first campaign in England. His defensive partner Otamendi must be afforded the same patience as he adapts to the Premier League. His positioning and distribution were poor at times, although his fight and passion cannot be questioned.
Raheem Sterling made it 3-1 on the half hour, after a fine solo run left a trail of Bournemouth defenders in his wake before he calmly slotted home. Much credit must also go to Kevin De Bruyne, whose exquisite through ball created the chance. Even at £54m, the Belgian is increasingly looking like a bargain with every game. It is little wonder that Wolfsburg fought so hard to retain his services.
Sterling completed his hat-trick on the brink of half time to give City an unassailable lead. Jesus Navas rounded Federici, but his indecision with the goal gaping allowed Bournemouth time to regroup. It appeared as though the chance had gone when his shot was saved, but Sterling saved his blushes by converting the rebound.
City withdrew Yaya Toure, De Bruyne and Sterling in the second half, with one eye on bigger tests ahead against Sevilla and Manchester United. However, there was still time for Bony to add his second of the afternoon. Navas scampered down the right wing in the closing minutes and his cross found the Ivorian in the box. His composed finish reflected his growing confidence, and Pellegrini will be hoping his good form continues ahead of the crucial Champions League tie on Wednesday night. With eleven goals in their two previous home games, there is plenty of cause for optimism at the Etihad.