Manchester City 2, Burnley 1

Burnley opened 2017 with defeat as they suffered their first ever loss at the Etihad against the 10 men of Manchester City.

Monday, 2nd January 2017, 5:26 pm
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 1:03 pm
Jeff Hendrick tries to find a way through

Gael Clichy and Sergio Aguero scored for the hosts in the second half for City, who had Fernandinho sent off, while Ben Mee responded for the away side.

The returning Jeff Hendrick was the expected replacement for suspended midfielder Dean Marney while winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson stepped in for Steven Defour as Scott Arfield was shifted in to the centre of the park.

With an exceptionally well-oiled first half display from the Clarets, the home side failed to craft anything from their own design.

Jeff Hendrick tries to find a way through

Burnley were organised, working hard to protect each other as a pack, though any ground they conceded was often self-inflicted.

Mee was the culprit in an early example of that, gifting Pep Guardiola's side possession in his own third, but Tom Heaton responded superbly to save at the feet of both Kelechi Iheanacho and Raheem Sterling.

Jeff Hendrick tries to find a way through

The Nigerian striker had another sight of goal moments later, collecting Yaya Toure's pass on the edge of the box, but his delicate shot, targeting the far corner, was diverted for a corner off the boot of Michael Keane.

The visitors were rarely troubled but they were the instigators of their own undoing once again when losing the ball from their own short corner and allowing City to break.

However, the hosts were wasteful and failed to make the most of their numerical advantage on the counter.

Everything else City contributed was merely speculative as they struggled to get in behind. Toure's shot from the edge of the box from Jesus Navas's pass was beaten away by Heaton while Kevin De Bruyne bent an effort around the upright.

City, though, were reduced to 10 men just after the half-hour when Fernandinho was dismissed for the third time in six games.

The City skipper lunged in two-footed on Gudmundsson after the ball broke and was deservedly shown red by referee Lee Mason.

After that the Clarets went to see the half out though Ashley Barnes went close when slicing wide of the target from the edge of the penalty area once Gudmundsson had helped on Keane's ball forward.

The home side's frustration's forced Guardiola to make changes at the interval, introducing Aguero and David Silva at the expense of Iheanacho and Navas respectively.

And it made a difference as the goals came around the hour. Neither substitute had a hand in the opener but Clichy applied a finish that both would have been proud of.

The full back picked up the ball on the angle of the area, side-stepped Arfield and tucked the ball in to the far corner.

The second came four minutes later and it was another that could so easily have been avoided.

Mee got the ball tangled beneath his feet as he attempted to cut out De Bruyne's threaded pass, Heaton raced off his line to foil Sterling but Aguero was on hand to fire the rebound in to the net off the upright.

That could've knocked the wind out of Burnley's sails but they refused to roll over against their title-chasing opposition.

They engineered a nervy finish with 20 minutes remaining when halving the deficit. Nicolas Otamendi swiped Sam Vokes's header off the line from substitute Defour's corner but Mee, against his former club, smashed the rebound in off the underside of the crossbar.

The Clarets pressed for a third draw in as many visits to the Etihad with Andre Gray slicing wide on the volley before Claudio Bravo reacted well to flick Keane's looping attempt over the bar.

It was another bright display from the Clarets but the wait for a first win on the road continues.