Manchester City‘s quest for a clean sweep of major honours continues after a routine FA Cup fourth round win over a Burnley side who suffered the same miserable fate as the likes of Rotherham and Burton Albion before them.

After winning their other two Etihad cup ties of 2019 by an aggregate score of 16-0, Pep Guardiola‘s side added another five to that tally. Gabriel Jesus, Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and a Sergio Aguero penalty complemented Kevin Long‘s own goal.

The afternoon may have taken a different course had Matej Vydra punished a brief moment of City complacency and levelled the score at 1-1 at the start of the second half but Burnley‘s lone frontman wasted his side‘s only opportunity.

And yet, you sense that it would still have been little more than a consolation. After the difficulties of December, City have started the new year in the sort of form which makes them seem unstoppable and makes Liverpool‘s four-point lead at the top of the Premier League table appear surmountable.

Guardiola will take particular confidence from the performance of De Bruyne, who has spent the last month edging his way back to full fitness after two separate knee ligament injuries, but is gradually approaching his match-winning best.

The Belgian started in all three of City‘s games over the past week and was named man-of-the-match for this display, scoring one from range, assisting another for Bernardo and forcing the own goal out of Long.

Despite the rout that was to come, the opening stages were played at a leisurely pace and the only early moment of entertainment came when Kyle Walker inadvertently snapped one of the corner flags in half.

Referee Graham Scott stopped play but, despite 50,121 cheering him on, he failed in his attempt to stick the broken pole back together. Lee Jackson, City‘s head groundsman, eventually came to Scott‘s rescue with a spare.

This short stoppage in play seemed to focus City‘s minds. A flurry of chances followed, though Nick Pope in the Burnley goal was equal to each of them, saving one Bernardo effort brilliantly with his legs before parrying Danilo‘s shot high and picking it out of the air at the second attempt.

When the opener arrived, however, Pope could have done better to prevent it. Danilo‘s ball in behind released Jesus, who first darted for the byline then cut back inside, rounding James Tarkowski in the process. His near-post finish caught Pope out, bouncing in off the goalkeeper‘s right boot.

The remainder of the first half passed off without much incident but City were reminded that there was still a cup tie to win in the early stages of the second.

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Nicolas Otamendi‘s loose attempt to carry the ball out of defence was punished by Vydra, who pounced and turned over possession deep inside City‘s half. Once through one-on-one against the imposing Ederson, however, Vydra fired wide and into the side-netting.

It was a let-off for City, who had otherwise enjoyed total dominance over their visitors, but they would soon ensure that Burnley would have no route back in. Bernardo doubled City‘s lead just five minutes after Vydra‘s miss, cutting inside and seeing his shot deflect off both Stephen Ward and Pope.

De Bruyne killed off any hope of a contest shortly after the hour mark, drilling Riyad Mahrez‘s lay-off into the bottom left-hand corner of Pope‘s goal from around 25 yards out.

And the final quarter-of-an-hour was one that Long will want to forget. The Burnley defender scored City‘s fourth, sending De Bruyne‘s cross from the byline into his own net, and then gifted their fifth by senselessly hauling substitute David Silva down inside the penalty area.

Aguero, another City change, sent Pope the wrong way from the spot. It was City‘s 30th goal in their nine games of the year to date: a year which could yet see this outstanding side achieve an unprecedented quadruple.

Sunday Indo Sport


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