Manchester City stayed within touching distance of the top of the Premier League table after beating Burnley The dogged visitors delivered a battling performance but were undone by Bernardo Silva's early opener Silva tucked home into the net on 12 minutes after Phil Foden's low effort was parried away by Nick PopeChampions City pushed for a second after the half-time break, with Riyad Mahrez firing over the crossbarAnd they doubled their lead with 20 minutes left until time, Kevin De Bruyne firing brilliantly into the net The result leaves City one point off Liverpool, with ailing Burnley still languishing in the relegation zone
Kevin De Bruyne celebrated wearing the Manchester City captain’s armband by scoring his first Premier League goal at The Etihad since May.
De Bruyne, who has fallen behind Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan and Ruben Dias in the list of City skippers, was able to lead the team out because none of that trio started.
And after Bernardo Silva had put the champions ahead after 12 minutes, the Belgian settled any remaining nerves with a powerful finish into the top corner after 70 minutes.
Manchester City stayed within touching distance of the top of the Premier League after beating Burnley at the Etihad Stadium
Bernardo Silva (right) tucked home at the far post to hand City the lead after Nick Pope parried away Phil Foden’s low effort
The result leaves champions City just one point behind Liverpool in the table, with Chelsea still to play on Saturday evening
Though the performance was far from convincing, it maintained City’s record of not having conceded at home in the league this season.
Burnley, who had lost 5-0 on their previous four visits to The Etihad, could view a narrower defeat as a moral victory. However, Sean Dyche’s side are still looking for their first win of the current campaign and remain in the Premier League’s bottom three.
The team news was dominated by Raheem Sterling being recalled to Pep Guardiola’s starting line-up after complaining about a lack of game time.
Sterling was given the job of being City’s false nine with John Stones also brought back and American goalkeeper Zack Steffen deputising for Ederson who returned late from World Cup duty with Brazil.
Jack Grealish was named among the substitutes having begun all of City’s other league games while the visitors named James Tarkowski as captain with Ben Mee absent through Covid.
City had the advantage of an early breakthrough after a patient build-up down their right-hand side which eventually saw Bernardo Silva square a pass to Phil Foden on the edge of the box.
The England international’s strike failed to beat Pope but the goalkeeper could only succeed in pushing the ball out to Bernardo who gobbled up the rebound from three yards.
It was the Portuguese international’s second league goal of the campaign having scored the winner at Leicester in September.
Burnley did well to keep themselves in the game with Nick Pope blocking Joao Cancelo’s volley in the midriff.
The visitors had an unexpected chance to level after 21 minutes when Dwight McNeil’s pass saw Maxwel Cornet get in behind Cancelo free on goal.
Steffen, in only his second league appearance for City, saved his team with a decent impression of Ederson, racing out and spreading his body to block the Burnley player’s shot with his chest.
The alarm showed the champions they needed a second goal despite their domination.
Mahrez blazed over with his left foot and Sterling was then denied by a block from Nathan Collins after meeting Mahrez’s cross with an acrobatic volley.
Sterling was less convincing when De Bruyne found him on the left-angle of the penalty area and he miscontrolled.
The first half ended in heated fashion when Aymeric Laporte went in high on McNeil by the halfway line.
Burnley’s Matt Lowton was particularly incensed with the way the Spaniard’s left the ground and remonstrated with a push through referee Martin Atkinson decided a yellow was sufficient punishment.
Guardiola switched Foden and Sterling for the second half. The reward was almost immediate when Sterling and Bernardo combined on the left to set up Mahrez whose rising shot clipped off the top of the crossbar.
Dyche sent on Ashley Barnes after 56 minutes and within seconds the forward had a chance in the box only to sidefoot weakly into Steffen’s arms.
It was De Bruyne who grabbed the killer second. His initial shot was charged down but when Mahrez challenged Ashley Westwood in the box he didn’t need a second invitation to unerringly fire into the top corner.