NEW DELHI, February 26: Manchester City eased to a 4-1 win at Bournemouth on Saturday. With a scintillating display, City have slashed the gap to Premier League leaders Arsenal back down to two points.
City, who scored through Julian Alvarez, Erling Haaland, Phil Foden and a Chris Mepham own goal, now have 55 points to Arsenal’s 57, although the London club have a game in hand.
Arsenal had earlier earned a 1-0 win at Leicester City and briefly moved five points clear at the top, putting pressure on City to secure victory on the south coast.
The visitors began strongly, dominating possession and putting together a series of slick moves, before taking the lead in the 15th minute as Alvarez fired in a rebound after Haaland’s deflected shot cannoned off the crossbar.
Haaland then netted his 27th league goal of the campaign just before the half-hour with a relatively simple finish to overtake Sergio Aguero’s tally from the 2014-15 campaign and become City’s record scorer in a Premier League season.
The Norwegian has now scored more goals than any other City player in a top-flight season since Francis Lee’s 33 in 1971-72.
With 13 league games to play, Haaland also has Tommy Johnson’s all-time City record of 38 goals in a league season, set in 1928-29, firmly in his sights.
Foden effectively sealed the points for City on the cusp of halftime, pouncing on an errant pass by Philip Billing and gliding past Jack Stephens to let loose a thumping finish.
Mepham turned in an unfortunate own goal early in the second half before Jefferson Lerma hammered home a volley in the 83rd to earn a consolation goal for second-bottom Bournemouth, who had slipped into the relegation zone earlier on Saturday.
Bournemouth, who have now lost all 12 of their Premier League meetings with City, were the perfect opponents to give the champions a boost after back-to-back draws with Nottingham Forest in the league and RB Leipzig in the Champions League.
The home side had no answer to the movement of City midfielders Ilkay Gundogan and Foden, who was back in the side after being benched for the Leipzig match.
Foden, in particular, tormented Bournemouth’s back line at will and was involved in City’s first two goals before getting on the scoresheet himself.
City took their foot of the gas in the second half as manager Pep Guardiola opted to rest a few players with the game effectively over as a contest, and Bournemouth switched to a back five in an attempt to limit the damage.
(ToI With Reuters inputs)