Kevin De Bruyne scored on his injury comeback as Manchester City warmed up for Wednesday’s Champions League quarterfinal against Paris Saint-Germain by crushing Bournemouth 4-0 on Saturday.
Short of form and goals before this match, City roared back from the international break looking well rested and produced a dominant performance against a Bournemouth team who had no answer to their movement and craft.
Three goals in the opening 19 minutes, from Fernando, De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero, effectively won City the game and they could have had more before Aleksandar Kolarov scored a fourth in the final seconds.
The result, and West Ham United’s draw at home to Crystal Palace, strengthened City’s hold on fourth place in the Premier League table.
It keeps them on course to return to the Champions League next season, which was beginning to seem unlikely after a run of four defeats in six league games.
Bournemouth have now failed to beat City in any of their six league meetings, and have yet to score against them at home, but with their safety almost certain, they could regard this as a learning experience.
City were without the injured Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure, Fabian Delph and Raheem Sterling, but Belgium winger De Bruyne returned to the starting XI after two months out with a knee problem.
The absences were hardly felt, although Bournemouth missed an excellent chance to take the lead after only five minutes when Josh King, sent clear by Lewis Grabban, pulled his shot harmlessly across goal.
Two minutes later, City were ahead. Jesus Navas’s right-wing corner was hit with a low trajectory that took the ball past attackers and defenders until it reached Fernando, who hooked it past goalkeeper Artur Boruc from 12 yards out.
In the 12th minute it was 2-0. Charlie Daniels, the Bournemouth left-back, was culpable when he tried to dribble out of defence, but once he had given the ball away, City’s quality took over.
FERNANDINHO HITS BAR
Aguero flicked the ball over the back four to David Silva, who cushioned a layoff for De Bruyne to volley home.
The Belgian nearly made it 3-0 to City in the 17th minute, swerving a first-time shot inches over the crossbar after Silva had sent Gael Clichy scampering down the left to cross low.
But a third did come two minutes later when Aguero outjumped Adam Smith at the far post to nod Navas’s cross past Boruc, with Steve Cook just unable to clear.
Next it was almost Fernandinho’s turn as he curled a shot over Boruc from 22 yards, only to see the ball strike the crossbar.
Bournemouth had some chances. Willy Caballero dived low to his right to scoop away a header from Cook, while Grabban headed over from Smith’s cross and Matt Ritchie saw a shot blocked after some neat juggling.
But City were never in danger and threatened to start the second half as they had the first, De Bruyne’s volley forcing Boruc to save low to his left.
De Bruyne was withdrawn short of the hour and Silva followed shortly afterwards, but Manuel Pellegrini’s men continued to create openings.
Aguero just failed to reach a cross by Pablo Zabaleta and Boruc had to block a shot by substitute Kolarov with his legs.
As City turned their attention towards Paris, gaps opened in their defence, but Eunan O’Kane was unable to take the best, scuffing his shot into the advertising boards.
Kolarov had the final word, dribbling into the penalty area and hitting an angled shot high beyond Boruc.