Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 November 2019

Manchester City back on top of the Premier League after win at Bournemouth

Substitute Riyad Mahrez scores game's only goal, while Cardiff creep closer to relegation trouble after defeat at Wolves

Substitute Riyad Mahrez scored the only goal as Manchester City beat Bournemouth 1-0 at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday to return to the top of the Premier League.

The home side showed champions City plenty of respect in the opening 45 minutes, defending deep and forcing their opponents to probe patiently for openings, and they conceded little in the way of goal-scoring chances.

City manager Pep Guardiola was forced to replace the injured Kevin de Bruyne with Mahrez at half time, and he was quickly followed by defender John Stones, who was substituted early in the second half with a thigh problem.

The visitors continued to probe and their patience finally paid off when David Silva teed up Mahrez, who lashed home a shot with his right foot to break the deadlock 10 minutes into the second half.

"We made one of the best performances we have played, they were very organised," Guardiola said. "But they didn’t have one shot, we defended well from throw ins and free kicks. We created a few chances, people should understand how difficult it is to attack 11 players [who are defending]. Thanks to the players they are absolutely incredible."

On the club's mounting injury problems, Guardiola said Stones was removed as a precaution but there was more immediate concern over De Bruyne who was withdrawn with a hamstring injury.

"We demand a lot of the players without giving them the time to rest physiologically, that is why it is incredible. No matter what happens this season they deserve my admiration," he said.

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe said: "It is difficult, you want to be competitive and that was the way for us to make the game tight, show toughness and mentally hang in. The only frustration is their goal was ugly, which is very unlike them, so very unlucky."

The victory means City leapfrog Liverpool at the summit ahead of Sunday's Merseyside derby against Everton with the quest for another three titles - Premier League, FA Cup and Uefa Champions League - still within City's grasp after they secured the League Cup last week.

Wolverhampton Wanderers put their recent shaky league form behind them to ease past Cardiff City 2-0 and leave the Welsh team in the relegation zone after a third straight defeat.

Desperate for a win to help their quest for survival, Neil Warnock's side started strongly with plenty of possession and could have had the first goal when Wolves keeper John Ruddy fumbled the ball on the line from a corner.

But Nuno Espirito Santo's Wolves showed why they are seventh in the Premier League, quickly imposing their fast-breaking and slick-passing game in front of an appreciative crowd of 31,309 at Molineux

Portuguese striker Diogo Jota smashed in the first goal from close range in the 16th minute after great link-up play and an assist by fellow forward Raul Jimenez. Two minutes later, Jota repaid the favour, laying up the ball for Jimenez to fire into the bottom left-hand corner for 2-0.

Crystal Palace moved further away from the relegation zone with a 3-1 win at fellow strugglers Burnley thanks to second-half goals from Michy Batshuayi and Wilfried Zaha.

Palace took the lead in the 15th minute when Jeffrey Schlupp's pull-back struck Burnley defender Phil Bardsley and ricocheted into his own goal.

Palace struck again when full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka's pass was blasted home, first-time, by Batshuayi.

The game was wrapped up in outstanding fashion by Zaha who tormented the Burnley defence, twisting inside and out, before firing a low shot past Tom Heaton.

An Ashley Barnes header gave Burnley a late consolation.

A 79th-minute header from Florin Andone secured Brighton & Hove Albion's first league win of 2019 as they beat seemingly doomed Huddersfield Town 1-0 to stem their recent slide down the table.

Updated: March 2, 2019 09:42 PM

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