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 second-placed Liverpool.
In spite of the goals and the win, it was another lacklustre display from Pep Guardiola’s side against winless opponents.
But after the difficulties of re-assembling his squad after the international break, the Manchester City manager would be satisfied with three relatively comfortably earned points.
Manchester 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.
The England international had said earlier this week that he would consider a move away from the club.
Sterling made little impact, however, in an unusually punchless Manchester 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 goalkeeper Nick Pope had pushed out a well-struck low drive from Foden.
Burnley caused Manchester City some problems, however, and Ivorian attacker Maxwell Cornet could have brought them level.
That was when he latched on to a ball over the top from Dwight McNeil, but Manchester City goalkeeper Steffen did well to save with his legs.
Josh Brownhill then screwed a shot wide from inside the box after some hesitant defending from Manchester City as Burnley ended the first half strongly.
Riyad Mahrez went close to doubling Manchester City’s lead after the break, clipping the cross-bar after a smart pull-back from Silva.
Manchester 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.
Burnley should have pulled one back in the latter stages but a stretching Chris Wood put his shot over the bar with Manchester City’s defence having allowed him space.
Pep Guardiola’s side are now on 17 points from eight games, in third place, and with Chelsea top on 19 points. .
“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.”
Burnley’s last four visits to Manchester City had ended in 5-0 defeats and manager Sean Dyche was pleased to have put up a better fight this time.
“We got 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.”
Burnley are next to bottom with three points.
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