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Guardiola hails ‘incredible’ Manchester City performance at Bournemouth

Pep Guardiola hailed one of the finest performances of his Manchester City reign after his side returned to the top of the Premier League table following a 1-0 success at Bournemouth.

Substitute Riyad Mahrez scored the second-half winner at the Vitality Stadium to move Guardiola’s champions two points above title rivals Liverpool ahead of Sunday’s Merseyside derby.

City, who prevented the hosts from registering a shot on target, dominated proceedings in Dorset and would have won by a far bigger margin had it not been for an inspired second-half performance from Cherries goalkeeper Artur Boruc.

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Victory, however, came at a cost as the visitors lost the key duo of Kevin De Bruyne and John Stones to injuries.

Guardiola replaced England defender Stones as a “precaution” early in the second half following the recurrence of a groin issue, while he must wait to discover the extent of De Bruyne’s hamstring problem.

“We make an incredible performance today, one of the best performance we ever played,” said Guardiola.

“We didn’t concede one shot on target.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola consoles the injured Kevin De Bruyne (Adam Davy/PA)

“Every time we lose the ball, we had three or four guys going there to pick up and recover the ball and play.

“They (Bournemouth) were incredibly well organised, 11 players in the box, there were really no spaces, and we found them.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen at the end of the season but these players deserve all my admiration, all my respect.

“It’s incredible how good they played today. Today is a special moment for all of us.”

“It’s incredible how good they played today. Today is a special moment for all of us.”

After City controlled the opening period without really threatening to score, De Bruyne, who has already had two lengthy lay-offs this term due to knee issues, limped off to be replaced by match-winner Mahrez in first-half stoppage time.

Centre-back Stones, returning following three games out, then had to come off for captain Vincent Kompany three minutes after the restart.

Guardiola believes the injuries are “physiological” issues, with the club’s packed fixture list contributing to the problems.

“John, I think, is more a precaution, we’ll see tomorrow. He was a little bit tight, he didn’t feel good, and we didn’t take risks. Hopefully it has not a big issue,” said Guardiola.

John Stones would later withdraw from the game with an injury

John Stones would later withdraw from the game with an injury (Adam Davy/PA)

“And Kevin has something with his hamstring. I don’t know (how long he will be out), tomorrow we’ll know exactly.

“But it’s normal, my friends. We played 25 games in, I think, 93 days. It means every three days and a little bit more we play one game, so it’s a physiological issue.

“These guys we demand play in that way every three days when the body is not already recovered, and of course sometimes the muscles say, ‘hello, it’s enough’.”

Mid-table Bournemouth were forced to defend in a 5-4-1 formation for much of the match and appeared powerless to prevent their winless run stretching to five games.

Cherries boss Eddie Howe was impressed with the relentless nature of City’s performance but frustrated by the decisive moment.

“I think we gave everything to the game,” said Howe.

“The only disappointment for me would be their goal is probably the ugliest goal they will score this season. And that’s cost us the game.

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“Their technical level was so high. We’re waiting for mistakes, for them to force passes, get frustrated and they didn’t.

“They kept doing the right thing, the simple thing and it meant that our chances to attack in the game were really limited.

“It’s that control that made it very difficult for us to get a foothold in the game in any way.”

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