Manchester City picked up a statement 0-3 win over Burnley on Friday night to kickstart the 2023/4 Premier League season and bagged three points in style.
The defending Premier League champions walked out at Turf Moor expecting a tough battle for possession against the Vincent Kompany-lead side.
The opening minutes saw Kevin De Bruyne execute a well-rehearsed short corner with Phil Foden before making a long pass to Rodri in the left corner, who headed it Erling Haaland’s way.
The Norwegian’s simple volley placed the ball inside the net from a close range, giving Manchester City an early lead. The hosts quickly fired back with a counter-attack as Mohamed Amdouni glided into Ederson’s box, held back by Manuel Akanji and narrowly avoiding a penalty.
The match was momentarily halted as De Bruyne requested medical attention and spoke with the physio before being substituted. The Belgian was replaced by Mateo Kovacic, who made his Manchester City debut in the Premier League following an impressive pre-season.
A positional change followed the sub as Julian Alvarez moved to the left wing while Bernardo Silva dropped deeper to play in the midfield. City struggled to keep Burnley quiet on the ball, who found their momentum and forced Pep Guardiola’s men further up the pitch.
City regained control over the game at the half-hour mark and five minutes of subliminal football ended with Erling Haaland’s brace. Alvarez received the ball from Kyle Walker and rolled it into Haaland’s path, who fired it past James Trafford to the top left of the goal.
Rodri’s defensive skills were at their best as the Spaniard played a pivotal role in recovering the possession, especially inside the six-yard box. He primarily kept Lyle Foster from playing in sync with Luca Koleosho, as the duo was evidently troubling Akanji. He remained the most notable player for City in the first half alongside Haaland.
In the 75th minute, Phil Foden curled the ball from a free-kick, and Nathan Ake attempted to push it into the net but failed. James Trafford couldn’t get the ball in time which fell in front of Rodri just outside the six-yard. He fired the ball into the back of the net to register City’s third goal of the night.
The rest of the second-half saw Foden, Alvarez, and Cole Palmer threaten the defence, and while other repeated attempts failed to add to the goal tally, it kept Burnley from maintaining possession for too long.
Injury time saw referee Craig Pawson reach for his red card after Anass Zaroury’s cynical challenge on Kyle Walker. The City right-back found space and galloped his way front with the ball until Zaroury clipped him high on the shin.
The Burnley winger was shown a yellow card, but VAR intervention ruled it a red card offence, sending him off. The hosts were down to ten men for less than five minutes before the game ended, with Manchester City earning their win.
Ruben Dias and John Stones’ absence raised concerns ahead of the match, but Kyle Walker, Manuel Akanji, and Nathan Ake, with additional help from Rodri, held Manchester City’s defence intact in a hugely promising start to the season.
City return to action on Wednesday night as they embark on the UEFA Super Cup final clash against Sevilla in Athens – it’s the winners of the Champions League up against the Europa League kings for more European silverware.
Ederson – 7.5
Good saves and ball distribution, and notable effort with long balls to Haaland upfront.
Kyle Walker – 7
Commanded the right flank throughout the game. Played a crucial role in the first two goals and was solid defensively.
Manuel Akanji – 7
Lost the ball twice and was saved by Rodri but was otherwise composed in the defence. A well-placed block deflected a potential goal into a corner in the first half.
Nathan Ake – 7.5
Solid defensive performance and was bold while moving the ball forward.
Rico Lewis – 6.5
Impressive when turning with the ball up front. Appeared flustered in transition initially but grew confident in the game.
Rodri – 9, Man of the Match
Scored a goal and assisted the opener. Incredible in the attack and dominant while defending.
Bernardo Silva – 7
Uncharacteristically quiet on the ball while attacking but balanced his play efficiently after moving to the midfield. Orchestrated City’s attacking spells and did the heavy lifting to maintain possession.
Kevin De Bruyne – 7
Spearheaded the attack during City’s first goal and hit the shot on target from a distance before early substitution due to injury.
Phil Foden – 7
Started the game and was impactful from the first minute. Brilliant techniques on the ball and off it but struggled with the finish.
Julian Alvarez – 7
Assisted the second goal. Before moving to the left wing, he often dropped deep to help the defence and played a key role in ball recovery. Impressive but less involved.
Erling Haaland – 9
It was back to business for the Norwegian striker, scoring two goals with his first three touches in the match.
Mateo Kovacic – 7
Josko Gvardiol – 6.5
Aymeric Laporte – 6.5
Cole Palmer – 6.5
James McAtee – N/A
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