LONDON (Reuters) – Raheem Sterling and Wilfried Bony produced the perfect tonic for Manchester City in the wake of top striker Sergio Aguero’s midweek injury, rattling in five goals between them against Bournemouth on Saturday.
With Aguero tearing a hamstring playing for Argentina against Ecuador in a World Cup qualifier, Premier League leaders City will need goals from elsewhere in the coming weeks and on the evidence of the 5-1 rout of Bournemouth they need not worry.
Sterling, signed for a record fee for an English player of around 45 million pounds ($69.48 million) from Liverpool in the summer, grabbed a first-half hat-trick — his first in senior football.
Bony, yet to really settle since a big-money move from Swansea City, meanwhile delivered his best performance since his move north in January.
“I am happy because we changed (Sterling’s) position and played him in the middle, with Wilfried Bony in front of him,” Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini told the BBC.
“We felt it was better for him to be near Bony and also near the box. We also had to do something different because we were without Sergio Aguero and David Silva.
“With his movement we thought Raheem could be dangerous there and fortunately he was — he scored three goals. He also missed three or four goals but he did very well.
“When we bought Raheem in the summer I said we are buying a 21-year-old who is very young and needs to improve. He is not a striker but he can improve his finishing and, today, he did.”
Bony had started only five games in 10 months at the Etihad before Saturday but the powerful 26-year-old seemed to strike up an instant rapport with Sterling.
His two goals, poached in the 11th and 89th minutes, doubled his tally for Manchester City.
“We talked a lot in training this week. I know he is very quick and I told him if I jump you have to run, there is no need to think about if I win the ball or not,” the Ivorian said.
“When we have the ball I look to show myself, it worked today. I am happy about the result and happy he scored three goals.”
($1 = 0.6477 pounds)
(Reporting by Martyn Herman)