Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne were on target as Manchester City beat Burnley 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday to stay within a point of Premier League leader Liverpool.
It was lacklustre display from Pep Guardiola’s side against a winless opponent but after the difficulties of re-assembling his squad after the international break, the City boss will be satisfied with three relatively comfortably earned points.
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City, with American Zack Steffen deputising for Ederson in goal given the Brazilian’s late return from national team duty, gave a start to Raheem Sterling, who had said this week that he would consider a move away from the club.
Sterling made little impact, however, in an unusually punchless City attack with Riyad Mahrez far from his best on the right and Phil Foden the brightest down the middle.
Portuguese midfielder Silva opened the scoring in the 12th minute, tapping in after Burnley keeper Nick Pope had pushed out a low drive from Phil Foden.
Burnley caused City some problems however and Maxwel Cornet could have brought the side on level terms when he latched on to a ball over the top from Dwight McNeil but City keeper Zack Steffen did well to save with his legs. Josh Brownhill then struck a shot wide from inside the box after some hesitant defending from City as Burnley ended the first half strongly.
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Riyad Mahrez went close to doubling City’s lead after the break, clipping the cross-bar after a smart pull-back from Silva. City finally put the contest to bed, in the 70th minute, when Ashley Westwood failed to clear for Burnley and the ball fell to De Bruyne who smashed home with his left foot.
Pep Guardiola’s side is on 17 points from eight games, in second place, with Liverpool top on 18 points. Chelsea could return to the top of the table if it beats Brentford.
“After the international break it’s always a little bit difficult to come to a rhythm and I know how good Burnley are. They did really well, they have good players,” Guardiola said.
“We did well in the second half and played really well and could’ve scored more goals. Good result, after the international break we take the victory and look what’s next,” he added.
Burnley’s last four visits to City had ended in 5-0 defeats and manager Sean Dyche was pleased to have put up a better fight this time. “We get nothing from the game but I was actually pleased with the performance against a top side,” Dyche said.
“They created chances, not as many as in the past but I was pleased we were creating quality chances and that’s the challenge we’ve had all season – taking our chances,” he added. Burnley is next to bottom with three points.