City eased through the gears with a sublime 5-0 victory over Burnley. Phil Foden started the rout – all-too familiar for Clarets supporters at the Etihad – with a crisp low effort from 20 yards out and Riyad Mahrez added two in the space of five minutes at the end of the first-half to end the game as a contest before the break. Ruthless City continued after the half-time, with David Silva bagging the fourth and Foden capping a stellar evening with the fifth just past the hour. The win takes City nine points clear of third-placed Leicester, though still 20 points adrift of long-time leaders Liverpool.
What happened? Pep Guardiola made eight changes to the starting line-up, keeping good on his word to use his entire squad in the games that remain this season. Burnley, only able to name seven subs to due various contractual issues with several senor players, started well and pressed high in the opening exchanges. And a compact shape at the back gave a glimpse as to why Sean Dyche’s men had gone seven games unbeaten before the Premier League was suspended. But gradually, City warmed to the task and on 23 minutes, Foden scored his second goal in five days and his fifth of the season. Mahrez and Bernardo played a short corner with the Portuguese playing a low pass to Foden on the edge of the box and after teeing himself up, the young England midfielder fired a low drive into the bottom right corner of the net. The lead was doubled on 43 minutes, with Fernandinho’s 50-yard pass to feet giving Mahrez and angled run in on goal – he jinked inside then out, tormenting full-back Charlie Taylor – before drilling a low shot across Nick Pope to make it 2-0. Then, in first-half added time, Foden’s cross to Sergio Aguero drew a clumsy challenge from Ben Mee and the VAR decision was that the challenge was a foul and a penalty was awarded. Mahrez made no mistake from the spot, but the price was Aguero limping off as a result of a kick on the ankle. A difficult evening continued after the break. Just six minutes in and Foden’s clever threaded ball found Bernardo on the right and his low cross was turned in by skipper David Silva from six yards out for his 75th goal in City colours. And the irrepressible Foden bagged his second of the night just past the hour with a delightful move, started by sub Kevin De Bruyne who fed David Silva and his low ball was nudged on by Gabriel Jesus for Foden to fire home at the far post. City declared at five and there was time for Leroy Sane to make his first appearance since August - brief, but welcome cameo by the German winger.
What it means… City move nine points clear of third-placed Leicester and eight points shy of guaranteeing a top four finish.
What’s up next?
City travel to Chelsea on Thursday evening for the third game of our Premier League restart. Chelsea are in a good position for Champions League qualification and this will be a tough trip for Pep’s men.