EPL

Pep Guardiola hails Manchester City ‘supermen’ after closing gap to Liverpool

By Sports Desk February 24, 2024

Pep Guardiola hailed his Manchester City “supermen” after they closed the gap to Premier League leaders Liverpool to one point with an unconvincing 1-0 win at Bournemouth.

The champions had to contend with local fireworks, a misfiring Erling Haaland and a second-half onslaught from the hosts before they left the south coast with a 15th victory from their last 17 matches.

Phil Foden’s first-half tap-in proved enough for City, who took advantage of Liverpool being in Carabao Cup final action this weekend, but were again not at their fluent best after a narrow 1-0 win over Brentford in midweek.

“They are supermen,” Guardiola insisted.

“What can I say? The demands for the calendar, for everything, for the expectations, they are so high. What they have done many, many years with a lot of games, many things and always you believe they will fall down, not continue to do it and they surprise me every time.

“I tell them so that is not normal. For many, many years every three days and Bournemouth have seven days to prepare for one game.

“Seven days dreaming every second of their one week to beat the best team in the world and we have three days to prepare for that.

“It is a lot of competitions, but still we are there and I love it, I love it, I like it. Still we are there.

“I don’t know how much longer we arrive in all competitions but still, we are there. Knowing where we come from, it’s unbelievable.”

City started brightly at Vitality Stadium and Haaland fired wide in the ninth minute, the first of a succession of squandered opportunities from the division’s current leading marksmen.

Haaland’s next opportunity was saved by Bournemouth goalkeeper Neto after Mateo Kovacic’s lofted pass, but Foden was on hand to stroke home from close range for his 16th goal of the season.

The visitors failed to kick on afterwards and it was the Cherries who finished the half strongly with Ryan Christie’s stinging effort parried by Ederson.

Andoni Iraola’s men remained in the ascendancy and should have levelled with 55 minutes played when Antoine Semenyo’s cross picked out Marcus Tavernier, but he scuffed his effort into the ground and Ruben Dias headed the ball away for good measure.

Taverner screwed another shot off target minutes later before Ederson clawed away Dominic Solanke’s close-range header with 23 minutes left.

Bournemouth continued to push for a leveller and – after Dango Ouattara arrowed a shot wide – their final opportunity went to January recruit Enes Unal in stoppage-time, but he headed Semenyo’s cross past the post to extend their winless league run to seven matches.

Iraola praised his own players and also doffed his hat to champions City, who remain firmly in the hunt to clinch a sixth Premier League title in seven seasons.

“I am happy because we showed today we are able to compete with one of the best teams in the world, if not the best,” Iraola admitted.

“Obviously you cannot ask much more of the players, effort wise.

“I think it is really difficult what they (City) do. It is really difficult. It is really demanding for the players to play every three games, very competitive games but they are used (to it) and have the experience.

“They can use different players and the level is more or less the same. They also, I think, have learned when to peak during the season.

“You know they know when they have some level and then when they need the top level, they will be there. They will be at the top level because they have learned during the seasons, learned when winning.”

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