Manchester City returned to the top of the Premier League after Riyad Mahrez's second-half strike saw them edge out Bournemouth 1-0 at the Vitality Stadium.
Despite dominating the entirety of the first half, City were limited to just two opportunities, when David Silva fired Kevin de Bruyne's cutback wide and a goalmouth scramble on the stroke of half-time that Bournemouth somehow dealt with, as Eddie Howe's side defended resolutely on the whole.
The visitors were also enforced into a change in opening 45 minutes due to an injury sustained by De Bruyne, in what was a frustrating half for Pep Guardiola's side.
City picked up where they left off following the interval, and managed to break Bournemouth down on 55 minutes, as David Silva kept the ball alive to find substitute Riyad Mahrez, who squeezed his shot beyond Artur Boruc at his near post for a deserved breakthrough.
The Pole produced a string of fine saves to keep the Cherries in the game, the best being from a looping Sergio Aguero cross that he tipped onto the crossbar, although it mattered little for City, who recorded their fifth consecutive league win come the final whistle.
Key Talking Point
Bournemouth curbed their usual attacking enthusiasm against Manchester City in order to stay in the game, starting with a back five and getting bodies behind the ball to frustrate the visitors. For 55 minutes it worked, until Riyad Mahrez broke the deadlock.
The Cherries had Artur Boruc to thank for keeping the scores as they were, who denied the likes of Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero, although the defensive performance from a side with the third-leakiest defence in the league - only Fulham (63) and Cardiff (53) had conceded more than Bournemouth's 53 prior to the game - highlighted the work that Eddie Howe had done.
Bournemouth frustrated Man City tho— GroundCrayfishseller (@GeorgeNjideka) March 2, 2019
While the hosts created little in terms of an attacking sense, as they failed to have a shot of any sort, they can take solace with conceding just one against the league's top scorers.
Starting XI: Boruc (7); Clyne (5), Mepham (7), Simpson (6), Ake (8*), Daniels (6); Smith (5), Brooks (5), Surman (6), Fraser (5); King (5).
Substitutes: Mousset (5), Ibe (5), Rico (5).
Despite ending up on the losing side, Nathan Ake produced a quality display at the heart of Bournemouth's defence, with the Dutchman leading by example alongside a 21-year-old Chris Mepham and 22-year-old Jack Simpson.
Ake was strong in the tackle and rarely caught out of position over the course of the game, which is quite the achievement considering the quality of opposition he was up against, as some of the league's top clubs may look at signing him this summer - such has been the standards he's set this campaign.
Nathan Ake has been incredible today. Even if Bournemouth lose, he is man of the match.— Colin McBride (@colin_a_mcbride) March 2, 2019
Key Talking Point
Similarly to the midweek win against West Ham, Manchester City were frustrated for the entirety of the first half against a Bournemouth side that opted to defend deep, and in numbers, which limited the amount of clear opportunities the reigning Premier League champions could create.
City however wouldn't be denied, as they took just ten second half minutes to produce a well-constructed attack that Riyad Mahrez, who started the game as a substitute, finished off, highlighting the amount of quality Pep Guardiola has at his disposal.
Manchester city are going to win the league .they are getting the result in their difficult moment like they did against westham— Emerson cruz (@emeogbonna121) March 2, 2019
Stunning results beating the sturbbon Bournemouth that didn't have shot on target... Well done to Mahrez as well, good way to respond after a poor performance in the previous game. Let's march on and defend our title!— Robzin Terris (@cellularmaake) March 2, 2019
The win, which sees the Citizens go top, also puts the pressure back on Liverpool, who have the small matter of a Merseyside derby this weekend, although the win at the Vitality Stadium may have come at a cost, as De Bruyne and Stones were forced off due to injuries, and could join the likes of Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho on the treatment table.
Starting XI: Ederson (5); Walker (5), Stones (5), Otamendi (6), Zinchenko (6); De Bruyne (5), Gundogan (6), D. Silva (7); B. Silva (7), Aguero (6), Sterling (6).
Substitutes: Mahrez (7), Kompany (6), Jesus (N/A).
While it wasn't his best performance of the season, Bernardo Silva stood out for the title-chasing visitors, with the Portuguese international always showing for the ball and looking to drive City forward, whether it be from out wide or a more central position.
Next for Bournemouth is an away game against the Premier League's bottom club Huddersfield in a weeks time, before they host Newcastle.
Manchester City meanwhile host Watford at the Etihad next weekend, before their attention turns to the Champions League when they play the second leg of their last 16 clash against Schalke, also at home.