A technically and tactically superior Manchester City couldn’t score a second goal, and was brutally punished for its misses by a resolute Burnley.
The same problem that Pep’s Barcelona had at times, has come to bite him again on a drizzly day in Burnley. The final 1-1 score can be seen as nothing but a failure in a game which City’s players completely dominated. 71% of the possession, 13 corners and 20 shots on goal weren’t enough, as Sterling’s epic miss was punished by a quick-thinking Gudmundsson.
When the match lineups were introduced, there weren’t many surprises in the player selection, but there was an unexpected, unusually risky move by Sean Dyche, who decided to go with both Barnes and Vokes as starters. The two-forwards strategy made Westwood the odd man out in the tactical tweak. The manager also preferred to go with Aaron Lennon over Arfield. Most analysts anticipated to see either Stones or Laporte as Otamendi’s partner. However, Pep had different plans (as always). Therefore, Kompany got the start. Danilo began at left back instead of Zinchenko, while Gundogan took over David Silva’s role.
The first 15 minutes of the game were marked by Burnley players knocks. In a 3-minute span between the 4th and 6th minute, Barnes, Vokes and Bardsley had to be attended by doctors, and then Kompany and Pope collided after a Silva cross in the 14th minute (thus the 4 minutes of added time). The first big moment of the match came after a short period of dominance by City culminated in Danilo’s fabulous curling strike from just outside the box that landed in Pope’s upper right corner. A pure moment of inspiration by the Brazilian. Considering Burnley have never had a comeback victory under Dyche, it was highly unlikely they were going to win this game after that.
The difference in quality was more than obvious, as evidenced by the zero shots on goal by The Clarets after 30 minutes of play. However, a missed offside trap in the 31st minute left Ben Mee with a great scoring chance. His shot was saved by an aware Ederson. The first corner kick for Burnley came in the 37th minute, and there was Mee again, with an open header which went passed the left post.
Soon after, Kevin Long received the first yellow card of the match for a challenge on Gundogan. Two minutes later, De Bruyne had a nice opportunity, but he fired his shot right into the middle of the goal, which is exactly where Pope was. The first half ended with a well deserved 1-0 lead for The Citizens.
One change was made at the half. Matt Lowton came in to replace the injured Phil Bardsley. In the 48th minute, Aguero had an excellent opportunity to double City’s lead, but his shot was blocked by Lowton’s back. In the 54th minute, another great action almost resulted in a second goal, but the ball that Aguero sent to Sterling was just a bit behind, and his shot went over the cross bar. 57th minute, and Danilo almost did it again from even further out. Luckily for Burnley, Pope was awake. A few minutes later, Martin Atkinson was lenient with Long when he tackled Danilo, as he could’ve easily shown him a second yellow.
We saw an exhilirating back and fort battle from the 70th minute on.
First, Lennon nearly leveled the scoring, but Ederson made an instinctive save that ricocheted off the post. Two minutes later, Sterling had one of the misses of the season. Two meters from the goal line, with an empty net in front of him, he somehow managed not to hit the target. Consequently, he was replaced by Diaz.
That miss came back to haunt City in the 82nd minute, when a simple Lowton cross was closely followed by Gudmundsson, who came in flying from the wing to beat Ederson. And that’s how it ended, as Burnley’s relentless spirit was rewarded once again. Until this encounter, City hadn’t lost a single point when going up 1-0 in a game this season.