ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Manchester City 3
LONDON • There were periods when this was awkward. Manchester City even looked flustered at times, stretched by Bournemouth's urgency and admirable refusal to wilt at their Dean Court home yesterday.
And yet Pep Guardiola's side still negotiated passage to another Premier League victory with all the panache of seasoned champions and with David Silva, dwarfed by the home side's central midfielders, untouchable at the heart of so much of their play.
The Spaniard retired at the end having barely broken into a sweat, but nearly had his manager purring at his craft on the ball.
Guardiola said of his captain: "He played incredibly well. David in this kind of game - with a defence so deep and with such few spaces - is so good. He's one of the best players I've ever seen."
It seemed almost unfair City forced their way ahead with a goal that owed something to fortune, Kevin De Bruyne scuffing his shot from Oleksandr Zinchenko's centre only for the ball to fall kindly for Sergio Aguero to convert.
There was more to admire at the build-up to their second as a goal which felt majestic in its construction - from Aymeric Laporte's pinged cross-field ball to Bernardo Silva, then David Silva's slipped pass for Raheem Sterling to score his sixth of the season.
That David Silva should be so integral felt a reminder of what City will lose when he departs at the expiry of his contract next summer.
This was his 400th appearance for the club and, if this is to be his last year in this league, performances like this should be cherished. He may not have the energy of old, but few compare when he infiltrates that pocket of space in front of an opposition backline.
Not that Bournemouth threatened to surrender meekly. They were the more aggressive through the opening exchanges, their muscular energy disconcerting the visitors to the extent that Kyle Walker was sanctioned for the second of two crude fouls on Nathan Ake.
Their approach had been disrupted by the loss of Charlie Daniels to what appeared another serious knee injury, with the wing-back's left leg buckling as he attempted to cross. The ease with which City sliced them open to extend their advantage was perhaps reflective of a team readjusting.
Yet the substitute Harry Wilson, introduced for the stricken Daniels would illuminate the occasion with a sublime free kick in first-half stoppage time, whipping the ball over the wall and beyond the leaping Ederson via a flick from the angle of post and bar. At least that offered Bournemouth hope and, briefly, momentum.
But City's threat on the counter was ever-present and Aguero's second rather deflated their challenge until the latter stages.
There is no disgrace in losing to these opponents.