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Match Reports

Manchester City 5 Burnley 0

Under-strength Clarets suffer losing restart as City make power pay

22 June 2020

Project restart proved a false start for the Clarets on a tough night at the Etihad Stadium.

Facing Manchester City first up after a 107-day absence from competitive action due to the Covid-19 shutdown was always going to be a daunting task.

And that job was made even harder with Burnley boss Sean Dyche stripped of a handful of senior players and forced to name teenagers Max Thompson and Bobby Thomas, along with two goalkeepers, on his bench.

Even at full strength, the Clarets have suffered at City in recent seasons.

And so it was perhaps no surprise that the defending champions, already into their second game of the delayed run-in, were able to comfortably extend their unbeaten home league run against the Clarets to 16 matches once they had struck twice just before the break to lead 3-0 at half time.

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On a warm evening in the surreal atmosphere of a behind-closed-doors fixture, with no supporters present to cajole or congratulate, Burnley did their best not to wilt.

But against such odds - and upset by the sight of a plane carrying the offensive message 'White Lives Matter Burnley' in apparent opposition to the anti-discrimination message the players are working so hard to promote - they fought a losing battle.

David Silva added to the pain with a fourth goal and Phil Foden then matched Riyad Mahrez’s first-half double as City went on to match the two 5-0 home wins they recorded against the Clarets last season.

A combination of injuries and players out of contract at the end of the month had deprived Dyche of the services of eight senior players.

Phil Bardsley, Chris Wood and Jeff Hendrick were missing from the starting line-up that had drawn with Tottenham back in early March as the Clarets extended their unbeaten league run to seven games.

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A fit-again Matt Lowton started at right-back, while Matej Vydra returned to partner Jay Rodriguez in attack and there was a full top-flight debut on the right-hand side of midfield for Josh Brownhill in Hendrick’s place.

But the lack of options and experienced back-up was most apparent on the bench, with five of the seven named – two short of the new maximum permitted – yet to have made a first-team appearance for Burnley.

By contrast, City’s embarrassment of riches was apparent as manager Pep Guardiola was able to make eight changes to the side that rolled over Arsenal last Wednesday night without significantly weakening his team.

Foden was one of those to come into the starting XI after scoring as a substitute against the Gunners and the England under-21 international was on target again to set City on their way.

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The Clarets – the last team into action since the restart – must have been satisfied with their start as they competed well and moved the ball smartly themselves.

But after surviving one early scare when Bernardo Silva fired wide, they fell behind just before the first-half drinks break when Silva collected a short corner and rolled the ball to Foden to pick out the bottom corner of the net from 25 yards with a skidding drive.

The Clarets looked to counter with some lively moments on the break but, crucially, they couldn’t quite make it to the break just one goal adrift as City quickly struck twice to effectively bank the points.

Mahrez claimed both goals, drilling the first past Nick Pope after beating Charlie Taylor on the run from Fernandino’s long ball from the back, and then doubling his tally from the penalty spot.

Virtually no-one in the deserted stadium expected Ben Mee to be penalised for sliding into a tackle on Sergio Aguero as the two challenged for Foden’s low cross.

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But VAR intervened and punished the Clarets’ skipper with a spot-kick which Mahrez converted.

The Clarets never threw in the towel and kept making City work for their openings but almost inevitably they came and six minutes into the second half the home side added to their lead.

Foden and Bernardo Silva were again involved, opening up the visitors’ back line for David Silva to slide the ball home as he continues his farewell tour of English football.

Dyche made his first change with an hour gone, saving Jay Rodriguez’s legs for more winnable battles to come as Erik Pieters came on and Dwight McNeil was moved inside.

And at the same time City made a double swap, introducing Aymeric Laporte and Kevin De Bruyne to keep life just as tough for the Clarets who shipped a fifth with an hour gone.

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De Bruyne was involved with a swift break and when Bernardo Silva’s cross was mis-cued by fellow substitute Gabriel Jesus, Foden was on hand to drive the ball home from beyond the far post.

With the use of five substitutes now permitted City also had the luxury of throwing on Germany international Leroy Sane.

And with a couple of minutes to go the Clarets also made a further switch, Thompson coming on for a senior debut to make it a memorable night for the scholar who was has impressed since graduating to the senior set-up in lockdown.

Manchester City: Ederson; Cancelo, Otamendi, Fernandino (Laporte 60), Zinchenko; Foden (Sane 79), Rodri, D Silva; Mahrez (De Bruyne 60), Aguero (Jesus 45), B Silva. Substitutes: Carson, Walker, Sterling, Gundogan, Mendy.

Booked: Cancelo

Burnley: Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Brownhill, Cork, Westwood, McNeil; Rodriguez (Pieters 60), Vydra (Thompson 88). Substitutes: Peacock-Farrell, Long, Dunne, Thomas, Jensen.

Booked:

Referee: Andre Mariner

 


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