Man City lead the Chelsea chase as Aguero takes his chance
Guardiola's team up to second in the table as Argentine striker shines after replacing injured Gabriel Jesus
Bournemouth 0 Manchester City 2
A goal in each half eased Manchester City to victory on the South Coast and moved them up three places into second spot in the Premier League, although the win came at a cost with Gabriel Jesus limping off early on in the game.
City are now eight points behind Chelsea, who they meet at Stamford Bridge on 5 April, and their fans will take heart from what happened in 2011-12, when the Citizens made up the same points deficit on Manchester United in the final six games of the season.
Despite the encouraging win, City manager Pep Guardiola did his best to downplay the significance of recent results, which have seen Chelsea drop four from a possible nine points.
"The gap is too big," he said when asked if he believed his boys could overhaul Chelsea. "Yes, they didn't win their game this weekend, but they still played so solid. It is important to keep the focus on our game... this result takes us from fifth to second, but it will be a good battle to qualify for the Champions League."
They are the words for public consumption but in private Guardiola will surely believe that there is still a good chance of hunting down Chelsea in the remaining 13 games of the season.
Morale appears to be good in the City squad, and they accomplished the victory at the Vitality Stadium despite the loss early on of Gabriel Jesus. The 19-year-old striker, who has made a sensational start to his Sky Blues career, went off injured after just 14 minutes, giving Sergio Aguero a chance to show his manager that he still has plenty to offer despite his recent demotion to the bench.
He had no hand in City's opening goal, a close-range effort by Raheem Sterling on 29 minutes, but he was obviously out to impress after being given a chance to show his worth and it was pressure from Aguero on 70 minutes that caused Bournemouth's Tyrone Mings to put into his own net.
"I'm happy for him," Guardiola said of Aguero. "He's an important player. He didn't play the last few games because the three guys (Jesus, Sterling and Leroy Sane) were amazing. That's why they'd played. Now it's the cup, then the Champions League, and the Premier League is still there. That's why we need a contribution from Sergio. He's so important for us."
Guardiola was also satisfied with the way his side managed the game, subduing an awkward Bournemouth side, who lie 14th in the table, six points above the relegation zone. "It's the first time this year we did that, controlling the game," said Guardiola. "We did it well at the beginning of the season but, after that, we lost something... [but] our game has been more stable since the Arsenal and Tottenham games. We are improving."