Burnley 0-3 Manchester City: Raheem Sterling scores two and registers an assist for Pep Guardiola’s men to progress to the next round of the carabao cup
- Raheem Sterling found the net twice in Manchester City’s 3-0 win over Burnley
- He has now scored the most goals across all competitions since last season
- Ferran Torres also scored from a right footed shot from the centre of the box
Pep Guardiola has always preached how pleasant it is having silverware in the cabinet by March. He would do, Manchester City having lifted the last three Carabao Cups, it now four years to the month since they actually lost a fixture in this competition.
Yet even allowing for his reverence of the least important trophy on offer, this was ridiculously strong. Different levels of respect exist, of course, and Guardiola’s lay on a different scale completely at Burnley, an opponent he likens to having your wisdom teeth whipped out without anaesthetic.
There was no wide-scale resting, even with a treacherous visit to Leeds United on the horizon. Tired legs are dead legs against them. The desire to go through and progress is weighted against the need to give star players a night off; the former won overwhelmingly before City did themselves, Raheem Sterling and Ferran Torres taking the plaudits, with young Cole Palmer very encouraging on debut.
Raheem Sterling found the net twice in Manchester City’s 3-0 win over Burnley
He has now scored the most goals out of any player across all competitions since last season
Sterling also registered an assist for Ferran Torres’s 65th minute goal for Man City
There was definitely more zip to City, probably a product of a rocket delivered by their manager after the timid surrender against Leicester City on Sunday. A response was demanded because, for all the hardship of a minimal pre-season and injury problems, shipping five goals at home for the first time in 17 years is wholly unacceptable for a club that continues to afford significant financial backing in the search for more trophies.
It was job done with minimal fuss. Burnley might have been on the canvas long before Sterling’s 35th-minute opener had it not been for Bailey Peacock-Farrell in goal. The young goalkeeper completed a string of fine saves, stopping on Sterling effort from squirming inside his near post before diving low with a strong right arm to deny a forceful drive across his body.
Pressure told eventually, however, and Sterling was up and running for the season, lashing home with vengeance, at the end of a move that owed much to Aymeric Laporte’s measured distribution from the back and then Benjamin Mendy’s punchy first-time cross. That was the sort of delivery Mendy needs to continue producing on a more regular basis given Guardiola wants reinforcements in the left-back area.
Yet for all the positivity, the 18-year-old midfielder Palmer following Liam Delap’s lead from last week by making an impression on his debut, Burnley felt they should have been awarded at least one penalty. With no VAR to fall back on, Andy Madley turned down Charlie Taylor’s appeal when going over Fernandinho’s challenge when turning back inside the box, and similar as Dwight McNeil was grounded by Kyle Walker.
Sean Dyche’s complaints from the touchline soundtracked the evening, although one when the return of Ashely Barnes – back for the first time since New Year’s Day following extended hernia problems – served as a timely boost with the Clarets stretched. Barnes saw one volley fly over Zack Steffen’s bar and gives Burnley more bite.
Torres was also the one who set up Sterling’s second four minutes after the half-time break
Burnley manager Sean Dyche’s complaints from the touchline soundtracked the evening
Palmer was very composed, capable of mixing it with Burnley. He twice went close as he kept up with the physicality in midfield, linking play behind Sterling, while Torres volleyed over an outrageous clipped throughball courtesy of Kevin De Bruyne. This was the most promising display Torres has conjured since a summer move from Valencia, a night he could accelerate in behind, the sight of which should fill Guardiola with hope of an attacking strategy when required.
It was Torres who set up Sterling’s second four minutes after the break, squaring intelligently for a tap in. Palmer had turned over possession in midfield, leaving De Bruyne to rampage towards goal and find Torres. A classic City counter and one that has been lesser spotted in recent times. Torres swept in his first goal for the club with 25 minutes left, unrushed after breaching the last line.
Sterling left Turf Moor furious, knowing he should have collected another match ball for the growing collection in his Knutsford property, only to be denied by Peacock-Farrell when through again. Guardiola wants to get through the international break unscathed and maybe the seniors running for him again will serve them well when they meet Marcelo Bielsa’s Murderball at Elland Road on Saturday.
Manchester City: Steffen, Walker, Fernandinho (C), Laporte, Mendy, Rodrigo, De Bruyne, Torres, Mahrez, Sterling, Palmer.
Substitutes: Ederson, Ake, Bernardo, Foden, Delap, Doyle, Harwood-Bellis.
Goals: Sterling and Torres
Burnley: Peacock-Farrell, Lowton, Long, Tarkowski, Taylor, McNeil, Westwood, Brownhill, Pieters, Vydra
Substitutes: Wood, Norris, Bardsley, Dunne, Benson, Goodridge, Driscoll-Glennon