Manch­ester City’s Ser­gio Agüero equals scor­ing mark in win against Burn­ley

The Guardian Australia - - Sport - Paul Wil­son at the Eti­had Sta­dium

Manch­ester City re­main on top of the Pre­mier League, Ser­gio Agüero is now their joint-top all-time goalscorer, but this work­man­like vic­tory over a pre­dictably solid Burn­ley side re­futed the the­ory that Satur­day af­ter­noons here are go­ing to be one long car­ni­val of fantasy football.

This was just football. Burn­ley made City work for the points and that was ex­actly what they did, se­cur­ing vic­tory only in the fi­nal quar­ter and play­ing im­pres­sively with­out putting on a show. It was en­ter­tain­ing enough on a wet and windy day, and as most peo­ple in the crowd were fol­low­ing the score in Manch­ester United’s game, ab­so­lutely no one was com­plain­ing.

“If peo­ple think they are go­ing to see five-zero scores ev­ery week that’s not go­ing to hap­pen,” Pep Guardi­ola said. “Some matches are more dif­fi­cult. Burn­ley have great phys­i­cal­ity and a strong work ethic, and com­ing into such a game af­ter play­ing in the Cham­pi­ons League makes life com­pli­cated.”

Burn­ley were not given much chance here, some book­mak­ers were quot­ing the lu­di­crous odds of 30-1 for an away win, though it was clear from an early stage City were not go­ing to find their op­po­nents quite as ac­com­mo­dat­ing as Stoke in last week’s 7-2 romp.

For one thing the scores were still level as the game en­tered its 30th minute, whereas Stoke had shipped three goals by then. For an­other, Burn­ley cre­ated the first goalscor­ing op­por­tu­nity, when Chris Wood judged the bounce of the ball bet­ter than Kyle Walker, went on to beat Ni­colás Ota­mendi and brought a brave save from Eder­son, in­jur­ing him­self in the process.

Un­for­tu­nately for Burn­ley, by the end of the 30th minute they had fallen be­hind. Nick Pope ini­tially made a good save from last week’s hero, Kevin De Bruyne, but he could not keep hold of the ball and showed his in­ex­pe­ri­ence by try­ing to re­cover it from Bernardo Silva when the City player was mov­ing away from goal.

The goal­keeper just about got a glove to the ball but Silva took the op­por­tu­nity to go down un­der the con­tact, leav­ing Burn­ley to re­flect on their own naivety as Roger East pointed to the spot. Agüero nat­u­rally scored, equalling Eric Brook’s 78-year-old club record of 177 goals. While it was in­evitable the Argentina striker would reach the mark sooner or later, it was in keep­ing with a low-key match that the big mo­ment should ar­rive with a penalty, and a soft penalty at that.

“There was con­tact and I wouldn’t even say it was a defin­ing mo­ment be­cause we still might have lost,” Sean Dy­che said. “It’s still frus­trat­ing though, be­cause it was min­i­mal con­tact, and to get that high off the floor with your arms above your head was im­pres­sive. It can’t be just me who thinks there ought to be more honour in the game.”

Agüero, in fair­ness, spent the rest of the first half at­tempt­ing to add an­other from open play, only to roll one shot wide and be de­nied twice by Pope in the Burn­ley goal. On the sec­ond oc­ca­sion, Bernardo Silva had the chance to fol­low up, but his ven­omous shot was blocked when James Tarkowski un­flinch­ingly stuck his face in the way.

Burn­ley ini­tially came out fight­ing for the sec­ond half and man­aged to put some pres­sure on the City goal, though they prob­a­bly re­alised it was not go­ing to be their af­ter­noon when penalty ap­peals against Fabian Delph were waved away, the de­fender hav­ing kicked the ball against his own arm in at­tempt­ing a clear­ance.

That im­pres­sion was fi­nally con­firmed when City scored their sec­ond goal from a set piece. Af­ter their early flurry of at­tack­ing in­tent Burn­ley had re­verted to keep­ing ev­ery man ex­cept Ash­ley Barnes be­hind the ball in an at­tempt to make City’s life more dif­fi­cult, a plan that was work­ing un­til Leroy Sané swung over a cor­ner from the left and Ota­mendi out­jumped Ben Mee at the far post to place a firm header down­wards. Even then Burn­ley had a man on the post to deal with such an even­tu­al­ity, but Steven De­four could not move his feet quickly enough and the ball trick­led past him.

There was clearly no com­ing back from that and just to make sure De Bruyne took ad­van­tage of the only time Burn­ley lost their shape by slip­ping Sané into miles of space for a third goal two min­utes later.

There could have been more: Sané, David Silva and Gabriel Je­sus missed late chances to boost the City goal dif­fer­ence still fur­ther, but the score­line was al­ready em­phatic enough. Even on a day when rain con­tin­u­ally poured from the greyest of Manch­ester skies, City never came close to slip­ping up.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.