Eight touches and two passes, but Erling Haaland still broke Bournemouth apart

Eight touches and two passes, but Erling Haaland still broke Bournemouth apart

The goal could prove to be very significant as De Bruyne, already firmly in the Premier League’s top 10 assist providers of all time, scored a career-high 15 league goals last season and most of his team.

“Last season was his most prolific for us and it’s important for us that not only Julian (Alvarez) and Erling score goals,” he said.

“They have the quality to do it – Riyad, Gundogan, Jack (Grealish), Kevin, Phil (Foden) – very, very important. We have more distractions in our movement, more space for our strikers, more space for our offensive midfielders

“Before last season, it was ‘assistance, assistance, assistance’. Now enjoy winning matches and scoring goals. The pleasure of scoring goals is great, so I can imagine again, their pleasure is great”.

De Bruyne’s “delight” was particularly evident in a first half in which City comfortably saw off their newly-promoted visitors and the 31-year-old put in a virtuoso performance, pulling the strings of the marionettes around him.

The second goal was vintage De Bruyne as Foden found him on the counter with a probing pass into an empty inside right channel and he advanced, with Haaland in front and the Bournemouth defense furiously pushing back in response.

De Bruyne eventually took the obvious and difficult option, spotting the shooting opportunity and depositing a superb finish with the outside of his right boot into the far corner.

An even more vintage De Bruyne moment came in the 37th minute when Riyad Mahrez pounced on a Bournemouth error in City territory and turned the game for De Bruyne down the left. The playmaker swept a perfect pass between the legs of Chris Mepham for Foden, whose shot was helped into the net by goalkeeper Mark Travers.

To his credit, Haaland had played a key role in the opener in the 19th minute, holding on to Ilkay Gundogan’s pass superbly despite the attention of three markers. Haaland took two touches to return the ball to his German teammate who beat Travers with an unstoppable shot.

Haaland threatened again; Especially in the first half with an audacious lob that Travers tipped over and, just before his 73rd-minute substitution, his difficult shot from a Jack Grealish cross went narrowly wide.

The thrashing was completed, however, in the 79th minute, when Grealish and Joao Cancelo combined skillfully and the latter’s low cross was turned into an own goal by defender Jefferson Lerma.

Bournemouth full-back Adam Smith vented his frustration at a late penalty for a foul on Cancelo and a bit of a push after the whistle with the Portuguese and Grealish having to separate players and managers.

But that was the closest the visitors had come to laying a real or figurative glove on the champions all afternoon.

“Unnecessary, frankly, unnecessary,” Guardiola said of the late outbreak of “hostilities.”

Opposite Scott Parker, meanwhile, was left to analyze a predictable defeat, even more so after last season’s top scorer Dominic Solanke was ruled out with an ankle injury.

“The first 20 minutes, after their goal, after the two quick goals, at that point you could be at ‘one,'” he said.

“I was pleased with the team the way they stayed in. But I’ve said before, you need 11 men to do 10 out of 10 performances, you have to ride your luck and you have to take the few chances you get. We didn’t make it.”

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