Manchester City 4-1 Burnley Five Things: Aguero’s quickfire brace the key

Sergio Aguero –

Anyone claiming the magic FA Cup to have died should watch Manchester City’s 4-1 Third Round victory over Burnley. Both halves of the game were beautifully captivating, but for entirely opposing reasons. Ashley Barnes’ first half strike threatened to hand the Clarets an epic scalp, before Sergio Aguero’s three-minute second half brace gave way to City excellence. Here’s five things from the game.

Burnley’s first half pressing

City were held in a vice-like grip in the early stages with Jeff Hendrick pressing centre-backs John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi to support Sam Vokes, while auxiliary Ashley Barnes battled for loose balls that went anywhere near Danilo. Burnley’s use of the ball was a little incoherent, although they did cause problems when the lively Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s corner was headed back across by Ben Mee, but Barnes couldn’t get a touch. This was a below-par first half from City and while they still forced last-ditch blocks from centre-backs Kevin Long and Mee, they did little to test Nick Pope. The home side’s most dangerous moment came on the quarter-hour mark when Aguero won a free-kick and Oleksandr Zinchenko fired over after Ilkay Gundogan hit the wall.

Barnes’ big moment

John Stones was just returning to the Citizens side after injury and his miskick was pounced on by Barnes, who rifled the ball beyond Claudio Bravo. While the former Barcelona goalkeeper did not make an error, it is hard to escape the sense that first choice stopper Ederson might have bailed the team out in that situation. Nonetheless, it was a deserved lead for the Clarets, whose fans were in dreamland.

Sergio’s swift double-salvo

The movement of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane had been a tad static in the first half, but we saw improvement in that regard after the break. Zinchenko moved into a central midfield position to lure Gudmundsson across, thus creating space for Sane to receive wonderful raking passes from the likes of Danilo and isolate Matthew Lowton one-on-one. The German’s end-product let him down initially, but the warning signs were there and Sergio Aguero did the business with a quick-fire brace. Firstly, he latched onto Gundogan’s clever free-kick to rifle inside the near post on 56 minutes, before rounding Pope to slot home moments later and leave spectators in no doubt as to the game’s course.

Super Sane

Confidence was now flowing through Manchester City veins and after some excellent combination play between Sterling and Danilo, the latter crossed beyond Pope but Sane fired off-target with the goal gaping. He would not be denied a goal for long though and after a wonderful pass from the majestic Silva, he rounded the keeper to slot home. Shortly afterwards, the wide man again drew Pope out on a counter-attacking move before showing the composure to tee up Bernardo Silva, who tapped the ball into an empty net.

No shame for the Clarets

Sean Dyche briefly took to the field at full-time to applaud the 7,500 away fans who had given him and the team great support throughout, whilst humorously claiming substitute Kevin De Bruyne to be a downgrade on Dean Marney. Dyche got his tactics spot on in the first half, but there was only so long his side could keep at bay an opponent that moves the ball so well. Manchester City had not been at their natural level in the first half – but then again, such is the quality in that team, they can reach that level for 45 minutes, rather than 90, and still win with comfort.