Manchester City effective if not that pretty as they beat Burnley to extend their lead at the top

Manchester City 3 Burnley 0: For Pep Guardiola, this victory was an encouraging signal that his City team can fashion wins against the most obdurate opposition

Mike Whalley
Etihad Stadium
Saturday 21 October 2017 16:56
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It was not quite the exhibition football of which they are capable, but Manchester City won well all the same. Even when Pep Guardiola’s team struggle to be pretty, they remain effective.

History was made at the Etihad Stadium, albeit in controversial circumstances. Sergio Aguero became the joint-highest scorer in Manchester City’s history, as they equalled a club record of 11 successive wins in all competitions.

For Guardiola, this was a signal that his City team can fashion wins against the most obdurate opposition. For Sean Dyche and his Burnley players, there was a nagging sense of injustice at the manner in which their resistance was broken, although they could hardly complain about the result.

The penalty from which Aguero gave City the lead was fiercely debated; goals inside the final 20 minutes from Nicolas Otamendi and Leroy Sane left little room for argument with regards to City’s superiority.

The key incident of the first half came just before the half-hour mark, and featured two sublime touches in the build-up. David Silva played a perfect through pass towards Kevin De Bruyne, who nicked the ball superbly around Matt Lowton before steering a shot that was pushed aside by advancing goalkeeper Nick Pope.

As the ball ran loose, Pope’s knee made the faintest touch with the foot of Bernardo Silva, who tumbled to the floor and was awarded a penalty. Burnley fumed, convinced of a dive. There was no doubt that the Portuguese midfielder had made plenty of the challenge; it was a question of whether Pope’s contact was enough to be considered a foul.

Referee Roger East believed that it was, and Aguero sent the goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot, scoring his 117th goal for his club and equalling the record set by Eric Brook between 1927 and 1939.

Silva dived to win City's penalty

Up until that point, Burnley had shown that discipline that has made them so hard to beat on their travels this season; City laboured for clear openings early on, and might even have gone behind after a quarter-of-an-hour.

Chris Wood burst past Kyle Walker and Nicolas Otamendi, with Ederson diving bravely at the striker’s feet, then earning a free-kick as Scott Arfield fouled him while going for the loose ball. Sadly for Wood, he was injured in the move, and had to come off minutes later.

Before Aguero’s opener, City’s best moment saw Pope beat out Bernardo Silva’s first-time shot from Leroy Sane’s left-wing cut-back. Once they went in front, Aguero began to look more like the striker who had started the season so well.

The striker, who had scored seven goals in eight games this season before breaking his rib in a taxi crash in Amsterdam on September 28, had three chances to add to his total before half-time.

Aguero gave City the lead

One positive run ended with a shot across goal, before he connected with De Bruyne’s sliding pass down the right and aimed for the near post, with Pope’s legs making a block.

Pope used his feet again as Aguero angled in from the left and fired towards the far post, with Tarkowski bravely throwing his head in the way to block Bernardo Silva’s follow-up.

City had to survive a couple of awkward moments early in the second half, with their opponents claiming a penalty as Fernandinho accidentally volleyed a clearance on to his own hand, although East was right to reject the appeals.

Then Jeff Hendrick was unable to get the ball into a position for a shot eight yards out as a Burnley free-kick caused panic in the home defence.

City ran up the score at the end of the match

City found it tough to create clear chances in the second half as Burnley continued to be disciplined, with Pope blocking David Silva’s shot at the near post after good approach play from Aguero and Sane.

However, in the space of a couple of minutes, City scored two quick goals that put the match out of their opponents’ reach, with Sane involved in both.

First, the Germany international delivered an outswinging corner met by Otamendi’s powerful header, with Steven Defour on the line unable to kick it clear.

Then De Bruyne’s through pass sent Sane clear to slot beyond Pope and complete another City win. For now, Guardiola's team look unstoppable.

Sane slotted home the third

Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Delph; De Bruyne (Gundogan 80), Fernandinho (Toure 78), David Silva; Bernardo Silva, Aguero (Jesus 76), Sane.

Substitutes: Bravo, Mangala, Danilo, Sterling.

Burnley (4-2-3-1): Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Ward; Cork, Defour (Westwood 84); Brady, Hendrick (Gudmundsson 71), Arfield; Wood (Barnes 20).

Substitutes: Lindegaard, Bardsley, Long, Taylor.

Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire)

Attendance: 54,118

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