PL REPORT: Manchester City 5 Burnley 0
Clarets again come unstuck at the Etihad Stadium as Mahrez hat-trick leads City stroll
In these abnormal times, sadly for the Clarets some things stay the same as they endured another chastening afternoon at the Etihad Stadium.
Regardless of wherever else they put up a fight, a trip to face former champions Manchester City always appears a bridge too far.
And so it proved again, as Sean Dyche’s men lost 5-0 here for the fourth time in a row.
Any hopes of building on a first league win of the season against Crystal Palace on Monday night were blown away by a hat-trick from Riyad Mahrez, who scored the opening two goals inside the first quarter of the game to pretty much decide the outcome before heading in the last with just over 20 minutes to go.
City therefore ended their relative goal drought, having endured their least productive start at this stage of a league campaign for over a decade.
Burnley, meanwhile, rued the absence of some of their senior men as their resources were badly stretched and must look to bounce back against less formidable foes to resume the progress they had started to show.
Traditionally one of the Clarets’ most difficult tasks of the year was made more difficult by the absence of handful of players through injury.
With just one senior central midfield player available in Ashley Westwood, Josh Benson was drafted in beside him for a Premier League debut and Dyche also changed the formation to try and give the Clarets a different dynamic.
But that new look had barely had time to get its bearings when Burnley went behind.
City had been short of goals in winning just three of their first eight games to kick off in 14th place in the table.
But there was a ruthlessness to their opening strike once the Clarets had lost possession through James Tarkowski, the ball being ferried swiftly across the front line for Mahrez to cut in and curl a shot around Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
It was a tough top-flight baptism for the Northern Ireland international as the replacement for the injured Nick Pope and he was beaten again mid-way through the opening half.
The Clarets had shown signs of getting a foothold in the game when they were undone by a soft goal and another for Mahrez.
The winger was left undetected from a throw-in, although Kyle Walker was aided by being permitted to deliver the ball from well in advance of where it went out of play.
Mahrez wasn’t about to complain, though, and again meted out the punishment with an excellent left-foot finish to register his seventh goal against the Clarets.
Peacock-Farrell was then forced to back-pedal and turn over an audacious chip from Kevin De Bruyne at the expense of a corner that again saw City have the ball in the net, this time, though, via the final touch from an off-side Ferran Torres.
But the Clarets couldn’t make it to the break without further damage as a minute before half-time City went 3-0 up.
De Bruyne was again involved with a nicely floated cross beyond the far post where full-back Benjamin Mendy arrived to volley home.
The Clarets reverted to a 4-4-2 line-up to try and stem the flow and five minutes into the second half Dwight McNeil sent a long-range effort just wide as he tried to take the fight to the home side.
City were at last being given something to think about and after Jay Rodriguez – playing on the right-hand side of midfield – had forced Ederson into a sharp save, Benson nearly gave himself a moment to remember.
The 20-year-old, who could be proud of his efforts in never shirking the challenge and his willingness to get on the ball, accepted the responsibility to take a free-kick on the edge of the box and only the merest flick off the defensive wall sent his effort inches wide of the top corner.
It proved to be a short-lived respite, however, as City stirred themselves again to score twice in four minutes to rack up another five in this fixture.
Spain international Torres tucked away a pass from Jesus with his last touch before being replaced by Phil Foden.
And virtually Foden’s first touch was a sumptuous cross for Mahrez to power home a header to complete his treble.
City thought they had a sixth when Peacock-Farrell bundled the ball back over his own goalline following an excellent block from Jesus.
But VAR came to the Clarets’ rescue with Jesus shown to be inches offside and when De Bruyne hit a post in the last minute, an unwanted symmetry to the scoreline remained.
Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias (Garcia 70), Mendy; Rodrigo (Fernandinho HT), Gundogan; Mahrez, De Bruyne, Torres (Foden 67); Jesus. Substitutes: Steffen, Sterling, Silva, Cancelo.
Burnley: Peacock-Farrell; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Westwood, Benson; Rodriguez, McNeil, Barnes (Vydra 81); Wood (Pieters 67). Substitutes: Norris, Gudmundsson, Long, Dunne, Goodridge.
Referee: Lee Mason