Haaland sets Man City record as champions crush Bournemouth

Pep Guardiola hailed Erling Haaland after the "incredible" striker set a Manchester City goal record as the Premier League champions thrashed Bournemouth 4-1 to keep the pressure on leaders Arsenal on Saturday.

Haaland scored his 27th goal in 24 Premier League appearances, establishing a new single-season City record in the competition as he moved past Sergio Aguero's total of 26 in 2014-15.

Guardiola's side were already leading at Dean Court through Julian Alvarez's early strike by the time Haaland netted.

Phil Foden's first league goal since November and a Chris Mepham own goal completed City's first win in their last three games in all competitions.

Arsenal's 1-0 win at Leicester earlier on Saturday had piled the pressure on City, who could ill afford to slip up for a second successive weekend.

They had blown the lead in a 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest last Saturday, allowing Arsenal to reclaim top spot in the process.

City had also failed to hold onto their advantage in Wednesday's 1-1 draw at Leipzig in the Champions League last 16 first leg.

But City had never lost to Bournemouth in 18 previous meetings and they routed the strugglers for the second time this season to move within two points of Arsenal, who have a game in hand against Everton on Wednesday.

"Considering the amount of games and a lot of travel we played incredibly aggressive. Our attack was more dynamic and we got a good result," Guardiola said.

"Erling Haaland, his impact has been incredible. We love him and he is helping us. Today we found him more and he is an incredible threat."

Despite his barrage of goals, Haaland had endured criticism over the last week amid a growing debate about his perceived flaws and possible negative impact on City this season.

Costly misses from Haaland in the Forest draw led some to question if City, champions in four of the past five seasons, are a less cohesive unit with the Norway striker in their line-up.

But Haaland's 33rd goal in 32 appearances in all competitions since signing from Borussia Dortmund last year should silence the doubters for a while at least.

- Gulf in class -

Kevin de Bruyne was only fit enough to feature among the substitutes on his return from illness after missing the Leipzig tie.

That meant there was a place for Alvarez and the Argentine World Cup winner quickly repaid Guardiola's faith.

When Foden's advance into the area was halted by Bournemouth keeper Neto, Haaland flicked the rebound against the crossbar and Alvarez was on hand to finish from virtually on the line.

Determined not to repeat their recent failures to hold the lead, City poured forward and Ruben Dias headed inches wide from a corner.

City were in complete control and Haaland doubled their advantage in the 29th minute.

Ilkay Gundogan's cross was bundled towards goal by Rico Lewis and Haaland swoop to slot home from close-range.

Encapsulating the gulf in class between the teams, Haaland has scored more league goals than the entire Bournemouth squad have managed in the competition this season.

Foden put the result beyond doubt on the stroke of half-time as the City forward seized on Philip Billing's woeful pass across his own area, held off Jack Stephens' challenge and fired past Neto.

Showing the ruthless streak Guardiola has been searching for, City swept forward to score again in the 51st minute.

Foden's cross found Alvarez and his stinging strike hit Mepham and cannoned into his own net as the Bournemouth defender tried to clear.

City's run without a clean-sheet extended to six games when Jefferson Lerma rifled home from 12 yards after the visitors failed to clear an 83rd minute cross.

smg/gj