Manchester City showed perfect timing in Saturday's 4-0 stroll in the South Coast sun, returning to form just in time for Wednesday's Champions League quarter final first leg away to Paris Saint-Germain. The champions of France, of course, are a vastly different proposition from a willing but limited AFC Bournemouth, but Manuel Pellegrini, the manager, was relieved that City are heading to the Parc Des Princes with a spring in their step rather than on a run of one win in six league matches and without a goal in four of their previous five games.
“I don’t know who is favourite,” he said. “In the quarter final of the Champions League, I don’t think you have favourites - they are all very difficult teams. What is important is the performance of the important players of both teams. We’ve had some very strange moments in the Premier League, but now we have returned to our normal performance. We need to win and we are going to try and win in Paris.”
City still expect be without some of those important players in Paris, including Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure, but Kevin De Bruyne - their joint second-highest league scorer despite a two-month absence with an ankle ligament problem - played 57 impressive minutes at the Vitality Stadium. The Belgian linked well with Sergio Aguero and David Silva, especially when volleying City's second goal from Silva's exquisite cushioned pass, although neither manager nor player could confirm that he will start again on Wednesday.
“I felt okay,” De Bruyne said. “This went well but if you miss nine weeks it’s not like you missed a few games. But this [performance] was very important to show everybody that we still want to be there. If the team plays at its best then we always have a chance.”
AFC Bournemouth (4-4-2): Boruc 5: Smith 5, Francis 6, Cook 6, Daniels 4; Ritchie 5, Surman 5, O'Kane 5, Gradel 4; King 4, Grabban 5.
Subs: Pugh (King, ht), Elphick (Smith 68), Gosling (Gradel 84)
Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Caballero 6; Zabaleta 6, Mangala 6, Otamendi 6, Clichy 7; Fernando 7, Fernandinho 7; Navas 7, De Bruyne 9, Silva 8; Aguero 8.
Subs: Kolarov (De Bruyne 57), Nasri (Silva 66), Iheanacho (Aguero 79)
Man of the match: De Bruyne
Match rating: 7/10
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