BOURNEMOUTH, England (REUTERS) - Substitute Riyad Mahrez scored the only goal as Manchester City beat Bournemouth 1-0 at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday (March 2) to return to the top of the Premier League.
The home side showed champions City plenty of respect in the opening 45 minutes, defending deep and forcing their opponents to probe patiently for openings, and they conceded little in the way of goalscoring chances.
City manager Pep Guardiola was forced to replace the injured Kevin De Bruyne with Mahrez at halftime, and he was quickly followed by defender John Stones, who was substituted early in the second half with a thigh problem.
The visitors continued to probe and their patience finally paid off when David Silva teed up Mahrez, who lashed home a shot with his right foot to break the deadlock 10 minutes into the second half.
Bournemouth were unable to raise their game and goalkeeper Artur Boruc pulled of a number of fine saves.
He was quick off his line to thwart a breakaway attempt by Raheem Sterling and Aguero clipped the underside of the crossbar before Boruc beat away a close-range header from Mahrez.
"We made one of the best performances we have played. They were very organised, but they didn't have one shot. We created a few chances. People should understand how difficult it is to attack 11 (defending) players," Guardiola said.
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe was disappointed to see his side's defensive efforts undone by what he termed an "ugly" goal.
"You want to be competitive and that was the way for us to make the game tight, show toughness and mentally hang in. The only frustration is their goal was ugly, which is very unlike them," he said.
The win put City top on 71 points, two ahead of Liverpool who face Everton in the Merseyside derby on Sunday. Bournemouth, who have lost four of their last five, remained 12th on 34 points.