After a game embroiled in controversy, AFC Bournemouth are still without a win in the Premier League this season after Manchester City stole a last-gasp winner, making them 2-1 victors at the Vitality Stadium.
A stunning opener from Charlie Daniels sparked jubilant celebrations around the ground, but the Cherries’ positive start to the game was nullified brilliantly by Pep Guardiola’s team. Gabriel Jesus slotted home from the equaliser and, with the five minutes of additional team already played, Raheem Sterling’s deflected strike meant the Citizens would leave the south coast with all three points.
Bournemouth battled valiantly throughout, and would have thoroughly deserved a point had they got it. The home side constantly applied pressure to Guardiola’s men – who struggled to gain possession for long spells. It was the Cherries’ pressing that gained them the first chance of the game, after Otamendi brought down Josh King and the resulting free-kick was headed behind.
And after a nervy moment at the back for new signing Nathan Ake, Bournemouth made the breakthrough. Kompany could only half-clear a teasing ball into the box to the feet of Charlie Daniels. Despite the angle being tight, and several blue shirts surrounding him, the full-back lashed an unstoppable shot towards goal, which clipped in off the underside of the bar.
This goal seemed to rattle Manchester City, and Bournemouth carved out another big opportunity. Jermain Defoe lashed a shot towards goal, but it was palmed away comfortably by Ederson.
After this, City gained a stronger spell in possession, and began to pull Bournemouth’s midfield apart. David Silva found himself in a dangerous position, just outside the box. With typical aplomb, the Spaniard threaded through an inch-perfect chance to Jesus, who comfortably slotted home past Begovic. Despite the tidy finish, Nathan Ake will be disappointed with not tracking the run of the tricky Brazilian.
The goal helped City into the ascendency, and Bournemouth’s defence found themselves being penned towards their own goal. Benjamin Mendy, City’s marauding new left-back, drilled in a delivery across the face of goal. As the Cherries struggled to clear their lines, the ball fell to the feet of Jesus, who could only stab wide at the back post.
Begovic had to be at this best yet again, after he denied Danilo at his near post. Bernardo Silva was the next City player to be presented with a chance, but he could only fire into the arms of the Cherries’ shot stopper.
And just before the half-time whistle, Begovic’s reflexes were tested once again. He pulled off a great save at his near post, after City worked the ball out wide clinically. As the ball came back down, the towering Bosnian climbed highest and punched clear, sparing his team from entering the interval a goal down.
The second half started brightly from the home side, as they defended well and countered with pace between City’s seemingly countless forays forward. It was on one of these counter-attacks that Bournemouth came within an inch of re-taking the lead. Dan Gosling fed the ball across the box to Josh King, who opened up his body and curled a shot towards goal. For a spilt second, the effort looked destined to nestle into the top corner, but instead it smacked against the goal frame and agonisingly away.
As the game ticked towards its final quarter, Guardiola rolled the dice and introduced Sergio Aguero, in place of Bernardo Silva. Aguero’s positive movement and link-up play with his strike partner caused problems for Bournemouth’s back line, and the Argentine had a penalty claim waived away by Mike Dean, after his run was halted by Adam Smith.
After Begovic pulled off two more solid stops, Manchester City finally had him beaten, but were unable to find the back of the net. A deep corner was met by the head of the unmarked Otamendi. The towering Argentine diverted a powerful nodded effort towards goal, but could only watch as the ball smacked against the inside of the post and fell into the grateful arms of Bournemouth’s keeper.
The away team continued to dominate, and brought on Leroy Sane to fashion a killer chance. As the clock ticked over to 90 minutes, tensions began to flare on the touchline, following a drop ball which was rapidly closed down by Manchester City. Both managers went toe-to-toe in a heated debate, which saw Mike Dean call them both over to hand out a warning.
And in one final gutting twist, it was deep into the time added on because of the managerial bust-up that City finally found their winner. Danilo delivered in a low cross that found itself at the feet of Raheem Sterling. The winger was quickly closed down as he got his shot away, but the deflection could only help the ball loop past Begovic and into the bottom corner, sparking pandemonium in the away stand.
Within the frantic scenes, Raheem Sterling was given his marching orders for his role in the celebrations, but Bournemouth were unable to capitalise. As Mike Dean blew his whistle for full-time, he was roundly protested off of the pitch, by both players, coaching staff and fans alike.
Bournemouth will hope to bounce back against Arsenal, on 9 September.