Goater's hat-trick hides City shortfall

Burnley 2 Manchester City 4
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The Independent Football

Kevin Keegan's reputation as a manager has been built on his desire to please; to play the game with a swagger. At club level it has been a successful formula, as the evidence from his stints with Newcastle and Fulham suggests, and it looks as though he is transferring the blueprint to Manchester City.

But the gung-ho nature of his tactics should force Maine Road regulars to take a medical – the approach is only for those with a strong constitution.

Yet despite the unalloyed excitement offered by a six-goal encounter, much of the fare, particularly in the opening period, was disappointingly fragmented. Nevertheless, the visitors were more dynamic in the opening scuffles and Richard Edghill, formerly the butt of abuse from City fans, tested Burnley's fragile-looking defensive line with a trio of deep balls, the first of which Shaun Goater headed cleanly beyond Nik Michopoulous in the 17th minute.

Burnley quickly levelled through a Steve Davis header from Glen Little's corner. Moments later the Clarets might have even been ahead but Steve Howey cleared Little's shot from the line. The game's defining moment, however, came with the dismissal of Gordon Armstrong for handling Tony Grant's shot in the box, despite Kevin Horlock having the resultant penalty saved.

Shortly after the interval Little was unfortunate not to put Burnley ahead when he struck the bar with a fine effort, but the cracks were beginning to show for the 10 men. Richard Dunne played a delightful back-heel into the path of Edghill and his cross was met by Paulo Wanchope to put the visitors ahead. Burnley struck back within two minutes when Lee Briscoe scrambled the ball over the line in a packed box, but inevitably, the fast pace of the game began to favour City.

Goater scored his second from close range after a Wanchope flick. His hat-trick was completed with five minutes to spare – time enough to squander two further opportunities.

Keegan conceded the dismissal of Armstrong was a harsh but pivotal decision, and one which unsettled his charges. "We looked better against 11 men and Burnley were dedicated and committed – we had to be at our best. We showed that we are capable of battling which will be an important quality this season.''

Burnley (4-4-2): Michopoulos; West (Gnohere, 37), Davis, Cox, Armstrong; Little, Ball, Cook (Weller, 72), Briscoe (Payton, 80); Taylor, Moore. Substitutes not used: Cennamo, Ellis.

Manchester City (3-5-2): Weaver; Dunne, Howey, Pearce; Edghill, Grant, Tiatto, Horlock, Granville; Goater, Wanchope. Substitutes not used: Murphy, Colisomo, Wiekens, Dickov, Huckerby.

Referee: C Wilkes (Gloucester).

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