Eight touches and two passes — but Erling Haaland still took Bournemouth apart

The goal could prove hugely important as De Bruyne, already firmly established in the Premier League’s top 10 all-time assist providers, scored 15 league goals last season, the most of his career and the more of his team.

“Last season was his most prolific for us and it’s important for us that Julian (Alvarez) and Erling aren’t the only ones scoring goals,” he said.

“They have the quality to do it – Riyadh, Gundogan, Jack (Grealish), Kevin, Phil (Foden) – really, really important. We have more distractions in our movements, more space for our forwards, more space for our attacking midfielders.

“Before last season he was ‘help, help, help.’ Now he likes winning games and scoring goals. The pleasure of scoring goals is great so I can imagine again, his pleasure is great.”

De Bruyne’s ‘enjoyment’ was particularly evident in a first half in which City comfortably saw off their newly promoted visitors and the 31-year-old delivered a virtuoso performance, pulling the strings of the puppets around him.

The second goal was vintage De Bruyne, as Foden found him on the counter with a probing pass into a vacant inside right channel and he moved forward, with Haaland ahead of him and the Bournemouth defense backpedaling furiously in response.

De Bruyne ultimately took the obvious and difficult option, spying on the shooting opportunity and laying down a magnificent finish with the outside of his right boot into the far corner.

An even more vintage De Bruyne moment came after 37 minutes when Riyad Mahrez pounced on a Bournemouth error deep into City territory and changed the game for De Bruyne on the left wing. The playmaker swept a perfect pass between the legs of Chris Mepham for Foden whose shot was assisted into the net by goalkeeper Mark Travers.

To his credit, Haaland had actually played a key role in the opening goal after 19 minutes, holding off a pass from Ilkay Gundogan superbly, despite being eyed by three markers. Haaland took two touches to return the ball to his German teammate who beat Travers with an unstoppable shot.

Haaland threatened again; notably in the first half with an audacious lob which Travers knocked down and, just before his 73rd-minute substitution, his difficult shot from a Jack Grealish cross rolled just wide.

The rout was completed in the 79th minute, however, when Grealish and Joao Cancelo skilfully combined and the latter’s low cross was turned into his own goal by defender Jefferson Lerma.

Bournemouth wing-back Adam Smith expressed his frustration with a late booking for a foul on Cancelo and some jostling after the whistle with the Portuguese and Grealish having to be separated by players and coaches.

But it was the closest the visitors came to putting a gauntlet, real or figurative, on the champions all afternoon.

“Useless, honestly, unnecessary,” Guardiola said of the late outbreak of “hostilities.”

Opposite number Scott Parker, meanwhile, had to analyze a predictable loss, especially as last season’s top scorer Dominic Solanke was ruled out with an ankle injury.

“The first 20 minutes, after their goal, then the two quick goals, at that point you could be in ‘for one,'” he said.

“I was happy with the team the way they stuck to it. But I’ve said it before, you need 11 men performing 10 out of 10, you need to play your luck and you need to take the some chance you get. We failed to do that.

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