Manchester City returned to the top of the Premier League table after a comfortable win against Burnley at Turf Moor with goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan. Burnley remain in the bottom three and could be seven points from safety if Everton beat West Ham tomorrow afternoon.
The hosts started the better of the two teams, but quickly found themselves behind when De Bruyne unleashed a powerful shot high and into the centre of the goal after Raheem Sterling cut the ball back to the Belgian with just five minutes played.
City nearly made it two when Rodri saw his curled effort saved by Nick Pope before Gundogan’s volley sailed over the bar after De Bruyne picked him out from a corner.
Gundogan did get his goal though.
In what was a similar combination for the visitors second after a quick give and go down the right-hand side between Sterling and De Bruyne saw the former find the German who slotted it past Pope with just 25 minutes on the clock.
The hosts had a real lack of intensity in the first 30 minutes and could have been 3-0 down before the interval when Phil Foden chipped a lovely ball forward to Sterling, who couldn’t guide his effort on target, to the huge relief of those Burnley fans behind the goal.
An attacking change from the hosts at half-time in which Dwight McNeil made way for Maxwel Cornet did little to change the fortunes for the home side.
A penalty appeal got waved away after Aymeric Laporte appeared to bring down James Tarkowski gave the hosts a bit of hope that they might be able to find a way back into the game, before Nathan Ake cleared Cornet’s header off the line, only for the linesman to flag for offside anyway.
As Burnley eagerly searched for a way back into the fixture, Manchester City looked dangerous on the counter-attack.
The visitors probably should have killed the game off when the ball fell kindly to substitute Gabriel Jesus, whose effort hit the post after a slight deflection off Connor Roberts. The rebound fell kindly to the Brazilian but once again, he couldn’t direct his effort on target.
The game finished 2-0 – a result that see’s City move back to the summit of the Premier League by a single point from Liverpool, whilst Burnley remain in the relegation scrap. They face Everton at Turf Moor on Wednesday night in a massive game for both clubs survival hopes.
Manchester City respond to Liverpool’s title challenge in the most professional of displays, but they should have perhaps scored more. Today’s performance may not have been ‘vintage City’ but at this stage of the season, all the really matters is the three points. The visitors did what they needed to do today and in truth, the game was over by the half-hour mark.
City knew they had to win and they did. They dominated possession, as you’d expect them to do and they created plenty of chances – 18 to be exact. However, one thing that would worry Pep Guardiola would be that they only scored two and just six were on target.
With Athletico Madrid looming large, Guardiola will be saying to his player that those chances need to be taken – definitely Jesus’ chances with 10 minutes to go.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Raheem Sterling (Manchester City). Sterling caused havoc to Burnley’s defence all afternoon and ended the afternoon with two assists.
His come under scrutiny at times, but he remains one of City’s key players, especially in that forward area.
He arguably should have also had a goal as well, but it wasn’t the easiest of chances to convert in fairness.
The England international will play a key role in City’s run-in between now and the end of the season as they chase the treble.
Burnley: Pope 7, Roberts, 5, Long, 5, Tarkowski 5, Taylor 5, Lennon 6, Westwood 5, Cork 5, Brownhill 6, McNeil 4, Weghorst 5. Subs: Cornet 7, Rodriguez 5, Barnes 5.
Manchester City: Ederson 7, Walker 8, Laporte 7, Ake 7, Cancelo 8, De Bruyne 8, Rodri 8, Gundogan 8, Sterling 9, Foden 8, Grealish 7. Subs: Jesus 7, Silva 5.
5′ – GOAL! Burnley 0-1 Manchester City (De Bruyne): The Belgian smashes the ball high and into the centre of the net after good work from Sterling to find his teammate.
25′ GOAL! Burnley 0-2 Manchester City (Gundogan): A neat give and go down the right-hand side gives between Sterling and De Bruyne gives the former time and space to pick out Gundogan, who slots it home first time past Pope.