Manchester, United Kingdom, Oct 20 – Pep Guardiola challenged his Manchester City attack to be even more clinical after an impressive 5-0 victory over Burnley on Saturday lifted them back to the top of the Premier League.
Five different goalscorers were on target for the defending champions, who ensured that former club favourite Joe Hart endured an unhappy return to the Etihad Stadium.
The result leaves City with 26 goals from nine games already this season, a better scoring ratio than last term, when Guardiola’s team set a new Premier League record with 106.
But the City manager is not resting on his laurels.
“We had 24 shots, 10 on target,” said Guardiola. “We are averaging 21 shots per game — we’re the best side in Europe in shots.
“But we have to increase our on-target (shots) because the first half it was only 1-0 and we created enough chances to score more goals.”
The win looked all but assured from the 17th minute when Sergio Aguero swept in from eight yards following neat approach play from Leroy Sane and David Silva and a deadly cross from the latter.
The second goal proved pivotal, however, and was not without controversy as Sane went down after contact from Jack Cork and referee Jonathan Moss appeared about to blow his whistle only to wave play on.
David Silva did so, although he appeared to cross the ball back from the by-line after it had gone out of play, while Burnley players inexplicably stopped playing and allowed Bernardo Silva to send a 15-yard shot soaring past Hart into the net.
Two minutes later a Sane corner was cleared by Matthew Lowton to the edge of the area and Fernandinho drove an unstoppable shot past Hart, although Burnley manager Sean Dyche was still angered by the second goal.
– Confusion –
“There’s so many things,” said Dyche. “Sane goes down with the tiniest of touches, a pull of the shirt.
“Then our players respond to that, feeling he’s gone to ground far too easily, let’s say, and the referee is going to blow his whistle, then decides not to, and waves it away.
“In the meantime, a player who’s off the pitch now walks back on the pitch to get the ball which is off the pitch, to deliver a cross they then score from.
“If that’s not confusing for everyone in the stadium, it’s certainly confusing for me.”
City supporters gave a hero’s reception to Hart, who spent 12 years and won five major trophies with City before Guardiola dispensed with his services.
And a stunning early save from Aguero — plus Aguero missing an open goal in first-half injury-time — kept Burnley in contention in the first period.
There was good news for Guardiola when he introduced Kevin De Bruyne, who had been out with a knee injury he suffered in the opening week of the season, as a 58th-minute substitute.
By the final 10 minutes, Burnley were capitulating. On 83 minutes, Mahrez curled in a brilliant shot from the edge of the area, courtesy of a Fernandinho through ball, and in the final minute Benjamin Mendy’s cross was turned in by Sane.
For Mahrez, who missed a late penalty in City’s last game, a goalless draw with Liverpool, the afternoon was particularly fruitful.
“He played so well at Anfield and that is why I decided to play him today,” said Guardiola.
“He made an incredible goal but also his assists, he was so aggressive against the full-backs when he got the ball. But we knew he is a talented guy who likes to play with the ball and in the 16-yard box he is a dangerous guy.”