Miserable return for Joe Hart as Manchester City bury Burnley
Former goalkeeper makes a series of fine saves before floodgates opened
Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva celebrates scoring their second goal during the Premier League game against Burnley at the Etihad Stadium. Photograph: Darren Staples/Reuters
Manchester City 5 Burnley 0
Joe Hart endured a difficult return to the Etihad Stadium as champions Manchester City powered to a comfortable 5-0 win over Burnley in the Premier League.
The former City goalkeeper earned a standing ovation and made a series of fine saves on his first return to the club with whom he won two league titles.
Agüero’s strike was his 149th in the Premier League and, were it not for the excellence of Hart and the Argentinian’s own uncharacteristic wastefulness, he could have had more.
City were dominant in all aspects and made the result safe when Bernardo Silva and Fernandinho hit their second and third goals in quick succession early in the second half.
That afforded City the luxury to ease Kevin De Bruyne back into action off the bench after two months out with a knee injury and more goals followed. Another high-profile substitute, Raheem Sterling, was not even called upon.
City soon asserted themselves with Mahrez, no doubt anxious to make up for his penalty miss at Liverpool last time out, influential on the right.
The Algerian’s delivery from the right was superb throughout but Agüero headed wide from a pinpoint early cross. Bernardo Silva also failed to test Hart when he scuffed a shot.
Hart was soon in the action, however, and he did brilliantly to keep out an Agüero volley from point-blank range.
Hart could do nothing to prevent Agüero opening the scoring after 17 minutes. The Burnley defence could not contain the intricate play of Sane and David Silva and Agüero finished clinically after being picked out unmarked at the back post.
Agüero had another chance blocked and David Silva lifted the loose ball over the bar before Mahrez drilled into the side-netting.
Hart prevented City doubling their lead before the interval with a fine one-handed save from a David Silva header and then got lucky as Agüero blasted the rebound wide.
That miss hardly mattered as City made the game safe with goals in the 54th and 56th minutes.
Burnley contributed to their own downfall as they stopped to protest about a non-existent penalty award after Sane was clipped by Jack Cork. Referee Jonathan Moss waved play on but Burnley misread the situation and were punished as David Silva pulled the ball back for Bernardo Silva to sweep in.
Moments later the result was put beyond doubt as Matt Lowton’s clearance from a corner was thumped back into the top corner of the net by Fernandinho.
De Bruyne came on soon after and City refused to ease up. Hart saved from Mahrez and Agüero before Mahrez curled in a fine effort. Sane applied further gloss to the scoreline when he clipped past Hart in the last minute.