PL REPORT: Burnley 0 Manchester City 2
Clarets battle bravely but can't stop City title charge
The Clarets have answered nearly every Premier League puzzle thrown at them down the years but cracking the Manchester City code has inevitably proved beyond them and so it proved again as the leaders collected another three points in their title pursuit.
City have scored more goals than any other team against Burnley in the Premier League era and although they managed just two this time, it was enough to give the former champions a 13th successive victory in all competitions and a third win over the Clarets this season.
Goals from Jesus and Raheem Sterling before the break extended City’s winning streak in the league to nine games, while the Clarets suffered only a second home defeat in seven league matches.
Sean Dyche’s men defended bravely to avoid another heavy loss and plugged away in the second half in search of the goal that may have given them a glimmer of hope.
But City’s defence has proved almost impenetrable in recent months and the Clarets couldn’t find a way through as they were left to look ahead to more winnable games to come in the next few weeks, while remaining eight points clear of the relegation places.
As expected, the Clarets were missing both Chris Wood and Robbie Brady through injury, which meant starts for Jay Rodriguez – his 350th in league football – and Johann Berg Gudmundsson, who scored the equaliser the last time Burnley avoided defeat to City three years ago to the day.
City’s seven wins since in league and cup illustrated the size of the task facing Dyche’s side and the job was made harder with the worst possible start.
City had never lost in 37 previous Premier League games in which Gabriel Jesus had scored, so they were doubtless delighted to see the Brazilian open the scoring with just two minutes gone.
Nick Pope would have been less pleased as the Clarets’ goalkeeper could only parry a Bernardo Silva shot into the path of Jesus, who nodded in from inside the six-yard box.
The Clarets actually responded well and, as they had done in defeat at Chelsea on Sunday, enjoyed some decent spells on the ball.
But they were never able to threaten the City goal as the visitors looked to equal a club record of six successive clean sheets with a 21st shut-out of the season.
And seven minutes before the break Burnley were left needing two goals to get anything out of the game as Sterling doubled the visitors’ lead.
The City skipper had earlier been denied by Pope’s timely dash from goal but this time he couldn’t miss as Ilkay Gundogan’s driven low cross left Sterling to move into double figures for the season with a simple close-range finish.
The England man could have added another five minutes into the second half but this time Pope made a fine block with his legs, sparing Clarets’ anger as Gudmundsson looked to have been fouled before City broke.
Riyad Mahrez then thought he had delivered the third goal moments later but VAR confirmed he had touched in Jesus’ cross from an off-side position.
That tight call just about kept the Clarets in the contest and with 25 minutes to go they almost provided hope of a comeback with a goal of their own.
Ashley Westwood’s ball in behind the City defence was nicely delivered and after controlling with his chest, Matej Vydra wasn’t far away with a volley on the turn which flashed just wide.
Injuries had left the Clarets without much extra firepower to add from the bench but with 20 minutes left Dyche did send on some fresh legs in the shape of Dale Stephens.
Joel Mumbongo then replaced Rodriguez for the striker’s second senior appearance in four days and Josh Benson gained further experience as a replacement for Westwood.
But changing the direction of the game was always going to be an enormous challenge as the Clarets probably kept an eye on giving key men a breather ahead of Saturday’s visit of Brighton.
Burnley: Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Pieters; Gudmundsson, Westwood (Benson 80), Cork (Stephens 70), McNeil; Rodriguez (Mumbongo 76), Vydra. Substitutes: Peacock-Farrell, Stephens, Bardsley, Long, Dunne, Glennon, Nartey.
Booked: Stephens, Mumbongo
Manchester City: Ederson; Cancelo (Zinchenko 64), Stones, Dias, Laporte; Gundogan, Rodrigo; Mahrez, Silva, Sterling; Jesus. Substitutes: Steffen, Walker, Torres, Mendy, Fernandinho, Foden, Garcia, Gomes.
Referee: Martin Atkinson