Burnley 1-4 Manchester City: Gabriel Jesus, Rodri and Riyad Mahrez bag

There is a reason Liverpool have to keep winning, must remain relentlessly consistent, cannot afford to relax, take a breather, the odd weekend off. It’s performances like this. Any let up and Manchester City are back in. They may be missing the consistency of last season but, as this match showed, this remains a formidable football team.

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They were comfortable here, at the type of ground and on the type of night it is said defines champions. Can they do it at Burnley on a cold Tuesday in December? The answer was a resounding yes. There was talk of confusion before the game, a slightly delayed arrival at Turf Moor and then a power failure in the visitors dressing room, but nothing mirrored these complications once the action began. 

This was City at their most imperious, bossing the game, deciding its tempo, and assured of three points once Gabriel Jesus had scored his second of the night after 50 minutes. The eventual three goal separation made the match seem closer than it was.  

Gabriel Jesus celebrates after putting Manchester City into the lead during the first half of their clash against Burnley

Gabriel Jesus celebrates after putting Manchester City into the lead during the first half of their clash against Burnley

David Silva celebrates with Jesus after the Brazilian forward managed to break the deadlock at Turf Moor

David Silva celebrates with Jesus after the Brazilian forward managed to break the deadlock at Turf Moor

David Silva celebrates with Jesus after the Brazilian forward managed to break the deadlock at Turf Moor

Jesus then doubled City's advantage in the second half as he managed to fire the ball in from a cross into the box
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Jesus then doubled City's advantage in the second half as he managed to fire the ball in from a cross into the box

Jesus then doubled City’s advantage in the second half as he managed to fire the ball in from a cross into the box

The 22-year-old showed his delight as he dashed off to celebrate the goal while chased by Silva and Raheem Sterling

The 22-year-old showed his delight as he dashed off to celebrate the goal while chased by Silva and Raheem Sterling

The 22-year-old showed his delight as he dashed off to celebrate the goal while chased by Silva and Raheem Sterling

Rodri then hit the third goal of the night as the midfielder smashed a brilliant volley in from the edge of the Burnley box

Rodri then hit the third goal of the night as the midfielder smashed a brilliant volley in from the edge of the Burnley box

Rodri then hit the third goal of the night as the midfielder smashed a brilliant volley in from the edge of the Burnley box

He ran over to the City supporters while blowing kisses to the crowd as he celebrated his second goal in a City shirt

He ran over to the City supporters while blowing kisses to the crowd as he celebrated his second goal in a City shirt

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He ran over to the City supporters while blowing kisses to the crowd as he celebrated his second goal in a City shirt

Riyad Mahrez hit a fourth goal for City as he managed to trick Ben Mee on the edge of the area before firing the ball in

Riyad Mahrez hit a fourth goal for City as he managed to trick Ben Mee on the edge of the area before firing the ball in

Riyad Mahrez hit a fourth goal for City as he managed to trick Ben Mee on the edge of the area before firing the ball in

The scoreline offered a fairer reflection when Riyad Mahrez put City 4-0 up with three minutes to go, and Robbie Brady’s 89th-minute goal for Burnley was the emptiest of consolations. Burnley were second best from start to finish.

City had the ball in the net after seven minutes from a Kevin De Bruyne corner, but Jesus’ flick, helping on a lovely shot from Rodri was rightly ruled offside with no need for VAR. The disallowed goal, though, did serve as a portent for the rest of the night. 

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Not just Rodri’s shooting from distance, or Jesus’ eye for the main chance, but the influence and intelligence of De Bruyne. His corner was smartly kept away from the penalty area, where Burnley’s giants lay in wait, and he was the architect of this win, the finest mind on the pitch, more than a match for Burnley’s resilience.

Complimenting De Bruyne was a lovely turn from Jesus, who has now scored 11 consecutive goals away from home dating back to last April. We hear a lot about homers – players, referees – yet Jesus appears to prefer life on the road. His goals here were the difference, crushing Burnley at moments when they were most vulnerable.

MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS AND LEAGUE TABLE 

BURNLEY (4-4-1-1): Pope 7; Bardsley 5, Tarkowski 5, Mee 6, Pieters 6, Lennon 5, Cork 6.5, Drinkwater 6 (Barnes 59, 6), McNeil 7 (Brady 75, 7); Hendrick 5; Wood 6 (Rodriguez 59, 6). 

Subs not used: Hart, Lowton, Gibson, Vydra.

Scorer: Brady 90. 

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Booked: Hendrick.

Manager: Sean Dyche 6.

MAN CITY (4-3-3): Ederson 7, Walker, 7.5, Fernandinho 7.5 (Garcia 85), Otamendi 7.5, Angelino 7; D Silva 7, Rodri 9, De Bruyne 8 (Foden 80); B Silva 7.5, Jesus 8.5, Sterling 7 (Mahrez, 72, 7). 

Subs not used: Bravo, Stones, Mendy, Cancelo.

Scorers: Jesus 24, 50, Rodri 68, Mahrez 87.

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Booked: B Silva.

Manager: Pep Guardiola 7.

Referee: Jonathan Moss 6.

Attendance: 20,101.

Ratings by Jack Gaughan 

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Sean Dyche shakes hands with his opposite number Pep Guardiola ahead of the game on Tuesday night at Turf Moor

Sean Dyche shakes hands with his opposite number Pep Guardiola ahead of the game on Tuesday night at Turf Moor

Sean Dyche shakes hands with his opposite number Pep Guardiola ahead of the game on Tuesday night at Turf Moor

Jesus managed to put the ball in the net early on during the game but it was correctly ruled out for offside by the officials

Jesus managed to put the ball in the net early on during the game but it was correctly ruled out for offside by the officials

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Jesus managed to put the ball in the net early on during the game but it was correctly ruled out for offside by the officials

The injured Sergio Aguero watches on from the stands at Turf Moor as his team tried to pick up three points without him

The injured Sergio Aguero watches on from the stands at Turf Moor as his team tried to pick up three points without him

The injured Sergio Aguero watches on from the stands at Turf Moor as his team tried to pick up three points without him

Jesus bent the ball past Nick Pope from the corner of the box to put Guardiola's side a goal ahead on Tuesday evening

Jesus bent the ball past Nick Pope from the corner of the box to put Guardiola's side a goal ahead on Tuesday evening

Jesus bent the ball past Nick Pope from the corner of the box to put Guardiola’s side a goal ahead on Tuesday evening

The Burnley goalkeeper could only watch the ball travel past him as he dived in vain while trying to save Jesus's strike
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The Burnley goalkeeper could only watch the ball travel past him as he dived in vain while trying to save Jesus's strike

The Burnley goalkeeper could only watch the ball travel past him as he dived in vain while trying to save Jesus’s strike

His first goal came midway through the first half, at a time when they would have hoped to have weathered an early storm. His second came five minutes into the second half when Sean Dyche would have harboured hopes of keeping the deficit to one and making City nervous of a late equaliser. 

At that moment, the contest was pretty much over. Burnley had shown little to convince they could pull one back, let alone two.

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Pep Guardiola regards a visit to Turf Moor as about as much fun as a trip to the dentist. At least you might get a blast of laughing gas there, though. 

Playing Burnley, by contrast, can be a humourless grind against a group of players expertly marshalled by Dyche and playing to their strengths. In the circumstances, then, City were outstanding, controlling the game from the earliest exchanges and deservedly ahead after 23 minutes.

A lovely goal it was, too, beginning with a ferocious break from De Bruyne, always at the heart of all that was good about City, driving upfield with Aaron Lennon in hot pursuit. De Bruyne showed just a little too much of the ball and in came Jack Cork, hard but fair, catching the Manchester City man but failing to thwart the move. 

The match between City and Burnley was one of the first Premier League games to be broadcast on Amazon Prime Video

The match between City and Burnley was one of the first Premier League games to be broadcast on Amazon Prime Video

The match between City and Burnley was one of the first Premier League games to be broadcast on Amazon Prime Video

Raheem Sterling battles for the ball with Burnley striker Chris Wood as both sides look to take control of the game

Raheem Sterling battles for the ball with Burnley striker Chris Wood as both sides look to take control of the game

Raheem Sterling battles for the ball with Burnley striker Chris Wood as both sides look to take control of the game

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Silva (centre) tracked by Burnley midfielder Danny Drinkwater (left) and forward Aaron Lennon (right) on Tuesday evening

Silva (centre) tracked by Burnley midfielder Danny Drinkwater (left) and forward Aaron Lennon (right) on Tuesday evening

Silva (centre) tracked by Burnley midfielder Danny Drinkwater (left) and forward Aaron Lennon (right) on Tuesday evening

On it went, Rodrigo, David Silva, Raheem Sterling all involved, De Bruyne still down and stricken, attracting much derision from the locals.

Those jeers choked in their throats, though, when the ball found its way to Jesus, slightly wide to the left but cutting inside with immediate intent. He curled a beautiful shot across Nick Pope in the Burnley goal. 

It looked to be going wide but veered in like an obedient sheep dog under instruction, nestling in the far corner of the net. It takes something to beat Pope like that, too. He’s a huge man. De Bruyne stayed down as City celebrated, but eventually rose gingerly and continued. 

Sore in the morning, no doubt, but it was worth it. A very brave player.

And this was a brave display from City, taking the game to Burnley, resisting their physicality, pressing them back, always looking for the breakthrough. 

Sterling nearly found it, Bernardo Silva, too. De Bruyne hit a lovely cross from the right which Sterling almost converted from close range, frustrated by Pope. His legs kept out Bernardo Silva on the break, too.

Guardiola bellowed out instructions to his players as he looked to increase City's lead during the first half at Turf Moor

Guardiola bellowed out instructions to his players as he looked to increase City's lead during the first half at Turf Moor

Guardiola bellowed out instructions to his players as he looked to increase City’s lead during the first half at Turf Moor

He did not have to wait long for Jesus to get onto the end of a cross and smash the ball into the top corner of Pope's net

He did not have to wait long for Jesus to get onto the end of a cross and smash the ball into the top corner of Pope's net

He did not have to wait long for Jesus to get onto the end of a cross and smash the ball into the top corner of Pope’s net

Jesus made a phone gesture as he celebrated his second goal of the night in front of the away fans at Turf Moor

Jesus made a phone gesture as he celebrated his second goal of the night in front of the away fans at Turf Moor

Jesus made a phone gesture as he celebrated his second goal of the night in front of the away fans at Turf Moor

No sooner had the second half began when it was over for Burnley. They simply had no answer to Jesus’ finishing and nothing to rival it at City’s end. 

This time it was an exquisite cross from Bernardo Silva met by Jesus on the volley from close range, his run taking him away from his markers, the conclusion reminiscent of an iconic goalscorer, such as Gerd Muller.

The third was a cracker, too. A little episode of pinball around the Burnley penalty area ended with David Silva’s shot charged down. Out it came to Rodri, who returned it first time from a good 20 yards with power that would see the ball bursting the net in a Roy of the Rovers cartoon.

By now City were rampant. Sharp, fast, alive to every opportunity, reminiscent of last season, those games when they simply swept the opposition from the field. For the fourth, Jesus won a header too easily for the liking of the locals, the ball falling to Riyad Mahrez. Shaping up to him Ben Mee had two options and neither was favourable. 

Mee didn’t fancy Mahrez on his left foot so showed him onto his right and he scored with that anyway. Within two minutes Brady pulled one back but it was window-dressing. No more. Burnley were well beaten and Dyche admitted as much.

Liverpool fans seeking reassurance need only look at the league table – eight points clear, game in hand on City still – but also an event in the 36th minute. A Burnley corner! Fancy. 

Rodri fires in a shot from the edge of the area that flew past Pope in the Burnley net and wrapped up the win for City

Rodri fires in a shot from the edge of the area that flew past Pope in the Burnley net and wrapped up the win for City

Rodri fires in a shot from the edge of the area that flew past Pope in the Burnley net and wrapped up the win for City

A delighted Rodri dashed over to the away end where he took in the acclaim from the City supporters who visited Turf Moor

A delighted Rodri dashed over to the away end where he took in the acclaim from the City supporters who visited Turf Moor

A delighted Rodri dashed over to the away end where he took in the acclaim from the City supporters who visited Turf Moor

The significance? Well, Guardiola has long identified set plays as the area in which Burnley are most dangerous. In particular, he frets about them from corners. So much so that in this fixture last season, a huge amount of City’s preparation was about not conceding a set piece. 

And it worked. Burnley didn’t get a corner all game, City won, and went on to collect the title. Had they drawn, it would have gone to Liverpool.

There is no reason to believe the philosophy would have changed on Tuesday night, yet this time City couldn’t hold out. In the 36th minute, Dwight McNeil whipped in a tricky one from deep and Kyle Walker had no choice but to send a glancing header behind. 

City gave one up in the second half, too. So it could be argued they are not the force of last year. Even so, it might be worth keeping an eye on that rear view mirror, just in case.

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