Aguero 37, 60
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- 26 November 2016 14:25
- Posted by @dclayton_MCFC
Sergio Aguero scored two goals as City recovered from an early blow to beat Burnley 2-1 at Turf Moor.
It was a hard-fought victory that the Clarets were in right up until the final whistle, but a crucial three points for a City team enjoying playing on the road perhaps even more than at the Etihad at present.
Pep Guardiola made five changes from the side that were held by Borussia Monchengladbach in midweek with Yaya Toure among those recalled with David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne on the bench.
The early kick-off gave City the chance to go top of the Premier League and put pressure on the teams around them and at a frosty, sunny Turf Moor, the battle between these two old Lancastrian rivals didn't disappoint.
City started reasonably well, with decent approach play and created one or two half-chances, but with only 14 minutes gone the Blues found themselves behind thanks to a 20-yard Dean Marney volley that gave keeper Claudio Bravo no chance.
It was the 13th time in 14 games City had failed to keep a clean sheet but there was no time to dwell on the early set-back – the Blues needed to get back on level terms as quickly as possible.
The response will have pleased Guardiola as his team steadily began to dominate proceedings, usually promoted by the impressive Yaya Toure.
Former England goalkeeper Paul Robinson, replacing Tom Heaton in the Burnley goal, dealt with shots from Aguero and Nolito and, as the half wore on, Toure slammed a low drive against the outside of the post.
The Blues were finally rewarded minutes later when a Nolito corner was helped on by Nicolas Otamendi and scrambled home by Aguero at the far post.
Moments later Aguero, looking sharp and alert throughout, curled a shot goalwards from the edge of the box but was denied by a fine Robinson save.
The half ended with the Blues well on top but with plenty of hard work still to do.
There was no let up for the hosts after the break with City, if anything, tightening their grip on the game, initially without making Robinson work hard.
There was some desperate last-ditch defending by the Clarets and just before the hour-mark, it was a mix-up by the hosts that finally handed the Blues a richly deserved lead.
As the ball was played to Yaya Toure on the penalty spot, Ben Mee went in with a high knee into the Ivorian’s midriff – no foul was given but in the ensuing scramble, two Burnley players got in each other’s way, Fernandinho nicked the ball and slid the ball across to Aguero who bundled the ball into the unguarded net.
The Blues then went in search of the goal that would seal the points, but Burnley were still in the game and as the half progressed, seemed to be finding something of a second wind.
There were one or two nervy moments in the City box as the Clarets continued to be a threat from set-piece plays, but the defence, superbly marshalled by Otamendi, managed to keep the home side at bay.
With the excellent Fernandinho - captain for the day - and Fernando mixing silk and steel just ahead of the back four, the Blues saw out the remaining time to record a sixth away win in seven games and, at least for a few hours, put City back to the top of the Premier League.
It was the determination and belief of Fernandinho that created what proved to be the match-winning goal that was undoubtedly the key moment in this tricky encounter for the Blues. Not only did he make the goal, but he won a ball he had no right to win and it was that drive that converted what would had have otherwise been a disappointing draw into a priceless victory.
Image of the day:
JUST TWO GOOD: Sergio Aguero bundles home the crucial winner for City
Man of the Match:
Two more goals and one of his best all-round displays of the season, Sergio Aguero deservedly took the man-of-the match-honours for City. The Argentine has now scored 152 goals for the Blues and has now drawn level fourth in the all-time MCFC scorers' list with Billy Meredith and Joe Hayes.
Confident, assured and a constant threat, this was Sergio back to somewhere near his very best.