It was an afternoon to forget for Burnley supporters at the Etihad yesterday, as the Clarets went down to a 5-0 defeat against the Champions, Man City.
There was a sub-plot to yesterday’s game in the return of former crowd favourite Joe Hart – though despite the applause of City’s fans, it was a miserable afternoon for the keeper, even though he acquitted himself well, with several excellent saves.
Burnley actually did reasonably well in the first half; early on, they got at the side assembled thanks to Sheikh Mansour’s billions, and restricted them to a one goal lead at half time – a Sergio Aguero strike having finished a good move down City’s left.
Over the last decade, the club has been transformed beyond recognition by largesse from Abu Dhabi, but yesterday it was the generous decision-making of referee Jon Moss from which they benefited. The match official had enjoyed his 48th birthday two days prior to the game – and you had to wonder if City’s billionaire owners had learnt the lesson of the Yaya Toure debacle – and sent Moss a greetings card!
A major talking point of the first half came in the first minute, with an extremely late and high challenge on Aaron Lennon by Vincent Kompany; who was only booked, whilst Lennon needed stitches in a gash. Seeing it back, it looks like a clear red card offence, but this is City at the Etihad, so it never happened.
Later in the half, Moss made a very telling interception to break up a promising Burnley move just before half time – in fairness he’s probably no longer fit or agile enough to get out of the way. However, mickey-taking aside, his role in City’s critical second goal was absolutely dismal.
Leroy Sane went down in the box under little or no pressure and Moss initially looked to be awarding the penalty. He then waved play on and the ball clearly ran out of play. David Silva played on though, with the Burnley defence apparently having switched off. The offside and out of play cross was met by Bernardo Silva and City were two up.
Burnley’s players were incensed and hadn’t cleared their heads just a couple of minutes later when City won a corner. It was only half cleared and Fernandinho smashed the ball home with aplomb, to sink the Clarets and effectively end the contest.
In the last ten minutes, the outstanding Riyad Mahrez added an exquisite fourth and a fluid move was finished by Leroy Sane for City’s fifth. The latter goal really rubbed salt into Claret wounds as Sane, who had dived in the build up to City’s controversial second goal, should have seen red for the cowardly and petulant hacking down of Matt Lowton.
Guardiola praised his side’s beautiful goals – though it was horrible stuff from a Burnley perspective. The Clarets have been out of sorts so far this season and whilst it would be nice to say that they wouldn’t have to play teams like moneybags City every week, it’s Chelsea at Turf Moor next weekend!
On the upside, Steven Defour made a welcome return to the starting eleven and Robbie Brady may also be in contention next week. This was always going to be a tough fixture and no Burnley supporter would deny City’s superiority. It was just unfortunate that when faced with such an uneven playing field, Burnley’s ability to stay in the game was undermined by the standard of yesterday’s officiating.