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Guardiola calls Man City players 'supermen' after Foden earns 1-0 win at Bournemouth

BOURNEMOUTH, England (AP) — Phil Foden’s 16th goal of the season earned Manchester City a 1-0 win at Bournemouth that trimmed the gap to Premier League leader Liverpool to one point and prompted plenty of praise by Pep Guardiola on Saturday.

Guardiola’s team had to contend with local fireworks, a misfiring Erling Haaland and a second-half onslaught from Bournemouth before leaving the south coast with a 15th victory from its last 17 matches in all competitions.

The latest win was secured by Foden’s 24th-minute tap-in after Haaland’s shot was parried out by Bournemouth goalkeeper Neto. Yet it was the hosts who did most of the running afterward and were unlucky to lose, with Marcus Tavernier squandering two fine chances.

City was unconvincing but stayed firmly in the hunt for another title ahead of a crucial March that contains league matches against Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

“I adore my players — they are supermen," Guardiola said at the end of an eight-day span when City drew with Chelsea, beat Brentford and then won after traveling to England's south coast. "They are so good. Where we come from for many years, playing every three days — they (Bournemouth) had seven days to prepare for the game and we always have less.

“We demand too much of our players but they respond. I know people say, ‘They earn a lot of money,’ but it is too much. Honestly. But business must go on and it surprises me every time how we are still there ... we won the treble and people think we have to win every game 4-0, 5-0 but that is not the reality."

City edged past Brentford 1-0 on Tuesday thanks to a goal from Haaland, but his finishing deserted him after nine minutes at Vitality Stadium.

Sent through after Foden flicked on Bernardo Silva’s lofted pass, Haaland — the top scorer in the league — curled the ball wide from 20 yards (meters) to spark big cheers from the home faithful.

The Bournemouth fans were almost on their feet celebrating 60 seconds later when Andoni Iraola watched his team create an opening for left-back Milos Kerkez, who tested Ederson with a dipping effort.

Chances remained at a premium, with the main first-half flashpoint being Adam Smith’s forceful tackle on Matheus Nunes until Foden continued his outstanding month with what proved to be the only goal.

It was more akin to route one than excellent football as Mateo Kovacic chipped the ball into the path of Haaland, who brilliantly rolled Marcos Senesi before Neto saved his effort. Foden stroked home the rebound from close range for his sixth goal involvement of February.

Moments later, Silva failed to play through Haaland as City started to get into its stride.

Bournemouth's players spent much of the first half allowing their frustration with referee Jarred Gillett to get the better of them, but eventually posed City problems with Ederson called upon to parry Ryan Christie’s low effort in stoppage-time.

They fashioned a decent opening early in the second half but Kerkez wasted a chance before Justin Kluivert tried his luck soon after, with Ederson saving the long-range strike.

The champions nearly highlighted their overwhelming power minutes later when Haaland bundled his way into the area, but Illia Zabarnyi got back well to block with his backside.

It failed to halt Bournemouth’s momentum and they should have leveled in the 55th minute. Antoine Semenyo again got the better of Nathan Ake and his cross found Tavernier, but the Cherries attacker fired his effort into the ground and Ruben Dias headed the wayward shot clear for good measure.

Bournemouth was in the ascendancy now and another gilt-edged chance was squandered when in-form Dominic Solanke twisted away from Dias and set up Taverner, who dragged his shot wide.

The next chance for the hosts came when Taverner’s inswinging corner found Solanke, but his header was clawed away on the goalline by Ederson and Kerkez’s follow-up shot was blocked by Rodri.

Fireworks were let off near the stadium moments later, before Haaland was substituted by an increasingly agitated Guardiola with 15 minutes left, straight after Neto denied the Norway international from close range.

Kevin De Bruyne came off the bench for a late cameo for City after hamstring trouble led to him missing the Brentford game. The Belgian was booked and squandered a decent chance after being played through by the excellent Foden.

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The Associated Press