In Manchester City it was insisted that it really was a matter of time. Pep Guardiola would have liked them to come earlier on a regular basis, but here they were. Finally a few goals.
Burnley is always on duty at the Etihad Stadium and this was no different. Inexplicably, Sean Dyche always sees his team withering while standing on this sideline. Groundhog day for him while City ran free – most notably Riyad Mahrez, who took on a first Premier League hat-trick in five years.
A major reason why they are six points behind Liverpool, the final pass, has been missing for most of this season. It showed signs of returning to Greece during the midweek and hit it off well yesterday, City was buzzing in the Manchester drizzle. Kevin De Bruyne’s radar was back in a spectacular way, the energy had risen and so was calm in the last third. Clinically too, with five goals from just six shots on target.
Riyad Mahrez scored his first hat-trick at Manchester City when they again beat Burnley 5-0 at the Etihad Stadium
The Algerian opened the score quite early when he was counter-fed by Kevin De Bruyne to sweep home
Mahrez then doubled his and City’s numbers after receiving a throw-in from Kyle Walker, cutting in and finishing just wide of the post.
Pep Guardiola saw his side bounce back from defeat at Spurs with a fourth straight 5-0 win against Burnley in the Etihad
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER REVIEWS
Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Ederson 6.5; Walker 7, Stones 8, Dias 6 (Garcia 70, 6), Mendy 7; Gundogan 7, Rodri 6.5 (Fernandinho 46.6); Mahrez 9.5, De Bruyne 9, Torres 7.5 (Foden 67, 7.5); Jesus 8
Subs not used: Steffen, Sterling, Silva, Cancelo
Goals: Mahrez 6, 22, 69, Mendy 41, Torres 66
Burnley (4-2-3-1): Peacock-Farrell 4; Lowton 5, Tarkowski 4, Mee 6, Taylor 4; Benson 6, Westwood 6; Rodriguez 6, McNeil 6, Barnes 6 (Vydra 81); Wood 5 (Pieters 67, 6)
Subs not used: Norris, Long, Gudmundsson, Dunne, Goodridge
Referee: Lee Mason 6
“If you play well and don’t score in games, you have a little frustration,” admitted Mahrez. ‘But we have to keep working. We continued to work to regain confidence. According to his manager, Mahrez’s own performance improvement has come in recent days. “We saw him more closely,” Guardiola said. “Before he wasn’t.”
City was good, although Burnley no doubt left the architects to surrender to their own. James Tarkowski and Charlie Taylor – usually two of their most consistent performers – will look back on Mahrez’s first few strikes with regret. And from there the game was gone. Beaten before they started. “We didn’t show up,” Dyche said.
Tarkowski first gave away possession in his own half, a loose pass for Dwight McNeil that Rodri jumped on. Bailey Peacock-Farrell took it out of his net five seconds later, City quickly countered and De Bruyne saw Mahrez come in.
No wonder City has plundered 27 home goals against Burnley in the past six encounters. City joined the 1907 Notts County team, becoming only the second in Football League history to beat the same opponent by five or more goals in four consecutive home games.
Dyche’s screams of ‘get out, get out’ to his stranded backline fell on deaf ears. “You’re looking to perform,” he said. ‘It slipped away from us against a top. The gameplan is almost dismantled by itself. ‘
Guardiola was in control of the midfield, which he demanded more than anything else from his side, and it was a tough assignment for 20-year-old Josh Benson on his Premier League debut. Benson completed some nice touches and threatened a clever free kick in the second half, but even the most experienced campaigners would have left giddy here.
For the injured Nick Pope, Peacock-Farrell’s debut deteriorated halfway through the first half. Taylor did not react quickly enough to the throw-in of Kyle Walker, after which Mahrez attacked Ben Mee and Tarkowski. Neither could stop the silky Algerian feet and satisfying ringing of the city’s rather encapsulated afternoon.
A first Saturday afternoon three-hour lock since January, no less, and four minutes before half-time they emphatically closed the procedure. This time Burnley couldn’t do much with De Bruyne strolling between the lines and planting a perfectly curved cross right on Benjamin Mendy’s instep. The left back hit a volley in the far corner, his first goal for the club.
Benjamin Mendy then made three before half time by dampening a volley with the inside of his foot in the bottom corner
The goal was Mendy’s first for the club and came after he was picked on the back post by the great De Bruyne.
Ferran Torres’ plethora of goals since joining City went on to fourth place with his first in the Premier League this season
The Spaniard flew home after a smooth attack where Gabriel Jesus found him from Kyle Walker’s cross on the overlap
“The goals are not important,” said Guardiola. ‘We can win with bigger margins, which is good, but I don’t always expect to win with much. We had many opportunities in every game. We were good and converted today. ‘
There may have been more before then, VAR refused a Ferran Torres for offside – a decision that led to bewilderment – while Peacock-Farrell hastily kept a too high cross from De Bruyne.
Burnley seemed a little more progressive, with Dwight McNeil aiming from a distance before Benson nearly squeezed his shot through City’s wall. Soon the hosts were definitely out of sight: two goals in three minutes on either side of Phil Foden’s introduction. Gabriel Jesus held off the markers in the penalty area and pushed possession to Torres so that the Spaniard could pass the fourth pass before being withdrawn.
The replacement, Foden, immediately sent a raspy cross to Mahrez to lead his third. Foden’s cross was excellent, a first time on the back post. That this was a fifth consecutive league game starting with him on the bench is pretty staggering, frankly.
VAR conceded another City goal for offside, further sparing Peacock-Farrell’s blush after kneeling over his own line somehow. A comical own goal was all that was missing. That or a goal from De Bruyne, the mercurial midfielder hammers on a post in injury time.
Mahrez then completed his hat-trick with a head banging on the back post after meeting Phil Foden’s delightful cross
City could have gotten sixth after rookie Bailey shot Peacock-Farrell through his own net, but it was ruled out for offside
Ederson was largely unconcerned but had to make a smart save to deny Burnley forward Jay Rodriguez’s drive
De Bruyne was again excellent for City and came close by attempting to scrape off the inside of the post
It was bad news for Sean Dyche, Burnley’s boss, after his men suffered another hammer blows at Etihad Stadium
City, meanwhile, have climbed the table and are now only six points behind Liverpool after previously drawing against Brighton